Thursday, December 25, 2014

So, what did I do during 2014?

Another year has come to an end - my 4th year in a row for Agro-Know. As usually, this was a year full of trips, events and interesting work and I would like to present an overview of what I did during this year. This time, I tried to experiment with infographics which I really love and you can see the results of this experimentation right below:

For those who still like a traditional list with links, here it is!

In chronological order

- Organic.Lingua 7th Project meeting (14-17/1/2014, Birmingham, UK)
- Organic.Lingua Greek user trial (12/2/2014, Athens, Greece)
- Webinar@AIMS:“Knowledge Organization Systems (KOS): Management of Classification Systems in the case of Organic.Edunet” (21/2/2014, online)
- Short trip to Alcalá de Henares, Spain (26-28/2/2014)
- Participation in EDF 2014 (19-20/3/2014, Athens, Greece)
- RDA 3rd Plenary Meeting (25-28/3/2014, Dublin, Ireland)
- Participation in in SEMIC 2014 Conference (9/4/2014, Athens, Greece)
- CIARD-GODAN Joint Consulation Meeting (22-24/4/2014, Rome, Italy)
- Organic.Lingua 3rd Review Meeting (28-30/4/2014, Luxemburg)
- ARIADNE Foundation General Assembly (5/5/2014, Athens, Greece);
- EdReNe 11th Conference (6/5/2014, Athens, Greece)
- LRE Subcommittee meeting (7/5/2014, Athens, Greece).

- I was assigned the role of Marketing & Networks Manager of Agro-Know (1/6/2014)

- Herbal.Mednet 4th project Meeting (4-6/6/2014, Bucharest, Romania)
- "Agriculture for Life, Life for Agriculture" International Conference (6/6/2014, Bucharest, Romania)
- SemaGrow 2nd Hackathon - Introductory Course (presentation on agri-food big data (4/7/2014)

- ICARDA meeting for defining the Open Access plan based on the CGIAR Mandate (Amman, Jordan, 3-9/9/2014)
- Agro-Know internal training: Using the Agro-Know blog (2/10/2014)

- Reached 100 (personal) posts in the Agro-Know blog (5/11/2014)

I am really curious to see what 2015 is going to bring and if I will manage to create a similarly large list of highlights like this one...

Monday, November 24, 2014

Seminar on social media, marketing and campaigns

I am the Marketing & Networks Manager of Agro-Know since June 2014; mostly due to my involvement in the social media in general but mostly blogging and tweeting. I am self-taught for both, I (hope that I) am good at it because I really like it and I always try to find ways to perform even better in using social media effectively. I often find myself downloading related e-books and watching presentations on optimizing the use and effectiveness of social media.

In this context, a couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend a face-to-face, 12-hour seminar on the use of social media (mostly at a corporate level) and marketing, focusing on the use of campaigns for promoting corporate events and activities in general. The seminar took place on two days (20 & 22/10/2014, 6 hours each), it was organized by and delivered by Arsenis Paschopoulos, e-Commerce & Internet Marketing Expert and Digital Marketing Manager of Just On Line with a long experience in social media and teaching this subject. The seminar took place in a cozy meeting room of Golden Age Hotel (Athens, Greece), pretty close to a metro station, making it really easily accessible.

A photo posted by Vassilis (@vprot) on
The seminar was addressed to both novice and advanced users of social media (it was attended by about 15 people) and this was a tricky part, as the trainer needed to make sure that everyone would get the basics of the social media presented (novices) without having a part of the audience getting bored (the more advanced users). Considering myself a more advanced social media user than the average, I have to admit that not only I did not feel bored but I indeed learned things that I was not aware of regarding the social media that I am using. The social media covered by the seminar during the first day were the following:
  1. Facebook and Google+ (I also consider them in the same league);
  2. YouTube;
  3. LinkedIn;
  4. Twitter;
  5. Pinterest (a pretty bizarre choice at first, but the use cases presented were convincing)
The time available for these was marginally sufficient but we more or less managed to cover everything, including information from creating an account and linking to other social media to using them for corporate purposes.

The second day was devoted to the use of campaigns using the aforementioned social media; Facebook was obviously the most well-covered medium but still alternative options for campaigns using the rest of the social media were presented. I realized that running a campaign using e.g. Facebook is not as expensive as I initially thought and it might be pretty effective, too.

My overall impression was rather positive; I managed to learn some things that I was not aware of, Mr. Paschopoulos helped me address some issues that I had with specific social media, I got to learn a lot of new stuff about the campaigns and got some basic information about SEO and the interpretation of analytics for each tool. He proved to be good at communication and had a deep knowledge of the social media presented.

Apart from the training, I also got to get a high number of slides presented during the seminar (but not limited to it - I got much more than that) as well as a book authored by Mr. Paschopoulos on Social Media Marketing (hardcopy) which contains a lot of useful information and can be used as a reference, documenting more or less what was already presented during the seminar.

My attendance to the seminar was another example of the training opportunities that Agro-Know offers to its team members; these are not limited to internal trainings but also include external opportunities as well.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Changes in the Agro-Know team

Over the last six months there have been several changes regarding the Agro-Know team; Giota, Angeliki and Thodoris left the team during the summer of 2014 for different reasons; it was a friendly break-up and we still have a great time when we meet (usually with a round of beers!) even though time is limited and opportunities for meeting outside the working hours are scarce due to personal obligations. None of them was a team member since the beginning but still their departure left gaps that we had to work on; on the other hand Mada stopped working for Agro-Know by the beginning of October while Nikos (+Nikos Palavitsinis) has already published his farewell to Agro-Know. Both of them were in the team since it all started, and this was something different. These departures were also planned but still...

At the same time, the Agro-Know team was enhanced with several new members during the same period:
  • The Project Management team was enhanced with two new project managers (Apostolos and Katerina);
  • The Data team welcomed a new intern, Patrycja (data management assistant);
  • The Business Development team grew by two members, with the addition of Thodoris and Thanos;
  • The Technical team was enhanced with the recruitment of Giorgos (data ingestion associate) and Panagis (UX/UI expert);
  • The Admin team welcomed Athina (Administrative Assistant) and Popi (Culture & Talent Development Assistant)
  • Two new interns joined the AK team for helping us with the Food and Water Quality themes (Lito and Maria respectively)
You can find information about the Agro-Know team in the Agro-Know wiki.
The Agro-Know team, October 2014. We are missing Giannis and Laura (both of them traveling at the time of the photo shooting)

This means that a lot of new blood runs in the veins of Agro-Know now; of course we miss some of our experienced ex-colleagues but we hope that the new team members will make up for it with their fresh ideas and enthusiasm. The new situation is challenging, as a lot of new people need to be trained not only in terms of their work tasks but also in terms of the mentality and culture of Agro-Know; a factor that is actually more important than it looks/sounds as there is also the possibility that some people might not fit.

There used to be a special "chemistry" among the Agro-Know team members; especially those of us who started together when we got in the Agro-Know offices for the first time in January 2011 went through some hard times, a fact that brought us closer. We managed to evolve a rather unorganized team into a well-defined organization throughout , with well-defined processes, where a lot of time-consuming processes are now automatically taking place and are taken for granted. As the team grows bigger with new members joining, we tend to lose our chemistry due to growing responsibilities, lack of time and the fact that processes now are more formal and "professional". New members are not aware of all that and all they see is this new, well-defined and organized situation; this does not allow them to see the background behind everything but only the strictly professional side.

However, this is a bet that we need to win, as the proper functionality of the team is heavily based on this special relation between us all. We need to embrace our new colleagues and help them understand things, integrate quickly and help them understand and integrate in the Agro-Know culture in order to ensure that the team will remain strong and work as it used to do for the last years. This is mostly a responsibility of the initial members (to help our new colleagues on and of course of the new members to understand and respect in order to keep things going as they should...

Friday, October 24, 2014

CGIAR Open Access mandate: Work in progress in the case of ICARDA

Agro-Know has a long time involvement in Open Access through its participation in related EU-funded projects (such as VOA3R and agINFRA), its participation and contribution in related initiatives and events and more lately through our active involvement in the FAO AGRIS Network (Agro-Know is hosting & responsible for the Data Processing Unit of the traditional AGRIS service) but also through the expertise and experience of each team members (such as agricultural domain experts, information scientists and librarians, software engineers and web developers etc.). In this context, almost five months after the CGIAR presentation, Agro-Know made a contact with the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), one of the 15 CGIAR Centers and it was agreed that Agro-Know would be responsible for the following:
  • Provide an overview of the current situation of ICARDA and the Dryland Systems program regarding information available, repositories and related processes and workflows;
  • Recommend the optimal approach for ICARDA and Dryland Systems, in terms of technology, skills, processes and responsibilities in the organizations;
  • Taking responsibility to prepare the ICARDA and Dryland Systems Open Access Plan, following the Guidelines set out by the CGIAR Consortium.
ICARDA staff during the briefing session on OA

First meeting

The first step of this process was a week-long visit (between 3-9 of September 2014) to the ICARDA headquarters, which are now in Amman, Jordan. During this visit, Johannes Keizer from FAO and me had the opportunity to meet with the Communications, Documentation and Information Services (CODIS) team led (then) by Mr. Michael Devlin. The aim of this first visit was:
  1. to meet the CODIS team and other ICARDA/Dryland Systems staff that would be involved in the processes related to the Open Access implementation plan;
  2. to evaluate the current status of the ICARDA/Dryland Systems metadata management workflows and infrastructure;
  3. collect as much information as possible related to the structure, the status and the requirements related to the design of the open access implementation plan;
  4. to provide all the necessary initial information for setting up the basic workflows and tools and initiate some basic processes;
  5. to inform ICARDA directors and other key staff about the benefits of Open Access, discuss any objections they had and briefly describe their involvement in the new processes;
  6. to inform the ICARDA staff about our initial findings and suggestions for the next steps through a briefing session on the last day of our visit.
(L-R) Me, Jack Durrell (ICARDA), Johannes Keizer (FAO) & Michael Devlin (ICARDA)
Indeed, during the visit, we had the opportunity to arrange focused, individual meetings with several of the staff members of ICARDA, including program directors, information managers as well as with people with a more technical background and role (but still currently involved in the information management processes), and inform them about the CGIAR Open Access Policy and plans, providing at the same time information on the advantages of Open Access as well as responding to any questions. At the same time, through focused interviews, we collected feedback needed for compiling our report, such as the structure of the teams, the types of information products available, the thematics covered by the information products of ICARDA and Dryland Systems etc. All feedback received was documented and was taken into consideration, along with the related CGIAR guidelines, in the preparation of the workflows and documentation for the implementation of the Open Access policy for the case of ICARDA. Our visit concluded with an Open Access briefing presentation to the ICARDA staff, during which we briefly presented our findings and considerations for the next steps of the OA implementation.

Working on the Open Access plan for ICARDA & Dryland Systems

After getting back to the Agro-Know office, a working group (Development Team, as we like to call it) was formed, that would focus on the specific task; the group consists of information managers with experience in agricultural information management, people with experience in Open Access, agricultural domain experts and a project manager for coordinating all activities within the team. By sharing all notes and related documentation from the visit to ICARDA, we completed the first part of the requirements' collection and moved to the next phase, which was the documentation of the current status and our proposed revisions regarding the set up of the infrastructure and workflows to support the implementation of the Open Access policy in the case of ICARDA and Dryland Systems. So far, we have collaboratively worked (with the precious help and feedback from the CODIS team) on the development of a first draft version of the document that was shared some days ago, and we are currently working on the next steps, including the definition of the metadata elements and controlled vocabularies to be used in the case of the ICARDA and Dryland Systems repositories.

The next steps

The next steps include regular communication with the CODIS team and other people to be involved in the process (for clarifying aspects that are not clear to us yet), completing all missing information and polishing the document, as well as a second visit to the ICARDA headquarters (supporting the testing phase of our proposed workflows) that will focus on the following:
  • a number of face-to-face meetings with key ICARDA staff, for fine-tuning the information already available in the plan;
  • meetings with the CODIS team for hands-on sessions and testing of the proposed metadata management workflows;
  • a hands-on seminar with the focal points from each ICARDA team to be involved in the OA implementation processes (e.g. information managers), clarifying the tasks that need to be done from their side as a part of their work.
These will help us finalize the design of the processes involved in the OA implementation plan and ensure their proper functionality of the proposed workflows before the deadline which is set by the CGIAR Consortium by December 15th, 2014. After that, everything will be properly set up for the actual implementation of the CGIAR Open Access mandate in the case of ICARDA, which is expected to be start even before this deadline. In the meantime, Jack Durrell from the ICARDA CODIS team has prepared a related presentation regarding the needs and status of the Open Access status and progress in the case of ICARDA and Dryland Systems.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Workshop on Wheat Data Standards and Interoperability

A really interesting workshop on Wheat Data Standards and Interoperability, titled "Bringing together the building-blocks of a common framework" took place between October 1-2, 2014 at Versailles, hosted by INRA. The Workshop aimed to continue the work that takes place in the context of the RDA Wheat Data Interoperability Working Group towards providing a common, open-standard framework for describing, representing, linking, and publishing wheat data.

Even though I was participating in the previous RDA Plenary Meetings on behalf of Agro-Know, this time I did not make it to the 4th Plenary meeting in Amsterdam (it was a good thing that my colleague +Andreas Drakos did!) nor to the INRA Workshop; for the latter, the hosts were kind enough to include my colleague Effie among the invited attendees so we had the opportunity to have a closer look on the progress of the group; of course I am still keeping an eye on everything related to the Group and participate (even remotely). However, I missed the chance to meet my good friends +Odile Hologne , Esther Dzale and Richard Fulss, with whom we usually have interesting discussions during the RDA Plenaries (and not limited to these events!).

Even though I miss travelling as much as I used to, I have to admit that I like the fact that my colleagues have the opportunity to contribute to the networks that Agro-Know is a member of and represent Agro-Know in such important events!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Agro-Know internal training: Using the Agro-Know blog

Following up on the AK trainings' topic, my time came for organizing and delivering a seminar to my colleagues. The seminar was about using the Agro-Know Wordpress-based blog, in an effort for me to persuade my colleagues to start sharing their news and updates through this corporate blog. The effort for delivering the course was a long story but for several reasons it was always postponed. This time we managed to organize everything in only a couple of days and on Moday I found myself presenting my slides before nine of my colleagues who expressed interest in attending the seminar - I would like to thank each one of them for their interest in the specific training.
The process was the usual one: Describing the seminar through a Trello card in the dedicated board for the AK trainings, deciding on the most appropriate day and time through a Doodle poll and delivering the seminar face to face in the Agro-Know meeting room.

Through my slides I tried to provide a short introduction to blogs and blogging, describe our Wordpress installation and then went straight to the point: How could one get ideas to write about in the blog and how to actually use the Wordpress environment for transforming his/her ideas into an interesting blog post. As I am currently maintaining three blogs (one personal, one professional and the Agro-Know blog), apparently I have no issue finding topics for my posts but still I understand anyone who gets stuck in this part so I tried to provide some ideas on getting ideas for a blog post. In addition, I demonstrated how a boring text-only post can be much more interesting through the embedding of multimedia files (e.g. images, presentations, videos, even tweets and Facebook posts).


The presentation was nothing special or fancy; each slide was mostly based on my personal experience while I got some ideas from related posts and websites I have visited during the last years. However, I hope that through this presentation my colleagues will be motivated to be more actively involved in the blog, contributing their own parts both as blog posts and comments in existing posts, leading to creative discussions. I have to admit, that encouraging my friends to start blogging is one of the biggest challenges I face as I am really keen on seeing the Agro-Know blog being even more frequently updated with the contribution of everyone in the team!

P.S. Special thanks to Dimitra for pushing me with that (I was rather disappointed from my previous attempts to organize the training) and for taking the only photo from the event as well as to Athina who took care of the practicalities and helped me a lot!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Using the Asus Transformer Book T100 during a bussiness trip

I recently had the opportunity to visit Amman, the capital of Jordan, for the first time for a meeting hosted by the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), one of the 15 CGIAR centers. The trip was challenging for various reasons, including its duration; I had to be there for a total of seven days, which was rather longer than my average trip. Packing was one of the aspects that had to be carefully planned as I always try to travel light but at the same time I need to make sure that I have everything needed with me.

My main concern was the laptop that I would take with me. I had more or less the following options:

  1. My work laptop: My Toshiba Satellite C670D-1C1 is fine to work with at the office thanks to its large, 17.3-inch screen and decent specs for office use - at the same time, its size and weight (almost 3 Kg!) render it a burden during business trips - let alone its limited battery lifetime (usually less than 3 hours with normal use). I usually end up with pains at my back or neck after carrying it around for more than a couple of days.
  2. My netbook: A rather retired now, after many years of use, Acer Aspire One 751h is currently running Peppermint OS 5 Linux as it doesn't get along well with Windows - it is obviously too old and slow (1.3 GHz Atom Z520 CPU, 1GB RAM, slow HD) for running Windows 8 or even 7 and I wouldn't trust Windows XP (its original OS) now that they are officially discontinued. While it is not that slow with Linux, it still is not 100% compatible with MS Office (which I would obviously need to use during a business trip) nor with other Windows apps which might not be available for Linux. It is fine to use for leisure or when not actual work is needed but when it comes to business trips, I'd rather avoid that...
  3. My home laptop: A 15-inch Lenovo G550 running Windows 8.1, heavily abused by my two kids and used also by my wife at home was not the best option; apart from the fact that some of the keys are missing and the screen has some lines all over it (both left as a souvenir by my kids), it would also mean that I would leave my family without a decent machine to use (e.g. kids to watch YouTube cartoons and wife to kill some time surfing in websites). 

The solution to my problem was provided by a colleague of mine who offered his newly acquired Asus Transformer Book T100 for helping me out with the issue. T100 was one of the gadgets that I always wanted to get my hands on and probably get one of them; a 10,1-inch tablet with a detachable keyboard looked like the ideal solution for a trip The question was: Would such a tiny machine actually meet the requirements of a daily work in a new environment?

Asus Transformer T100 on top of my Toshiba Satellite C670D-1C1

Its specs were promising, as under its tiny body, it featured a 1.3GHz quad-core Atom processor (Z3740, a real workhorse compared to the crappy Z520 that under-powers my netbook), 2 GB of RAM, 32GB flash storage (expandable to 64 with the addition of a microSD card), a micro-USB 3.0 port and a battery life of about 10 hours of actual work combined with a usable keyboard which offered one additional USB port (2.0). T100 was running Windows 8.1 (full version, not RT!) with MS Office 2013.

My impressions from using the T100 during the trip are pretty positive:
  1. During the flight, I had to do some preparations by reading documentation downloaded just before the flight; I just detached the keyboard and I used the tablet as an ebook reader;
  2. After about 3 hours of light use (including WiFi usage), I still had about 80% battery
  3. During the first day of the meeting (09.30-17.30), I had no access to power plugs but still I had to keep notes using Evernote. With WiFi usually off and about 1.5 hour break, I still managed to reach my hotel room with about 30% battery left which was amazing!
  4. Using the T100 with WiFi on, 4-5 tabs in Chrome open, Skype, 1-2 MS Word documents and a PDF reader was no problem; I did not notice any kind of lag/delay. I cannot understand how this hardware manages to keep up with such tasks with no lag and such a long battery life.
  5. At first I was afraid that the tiny keyboard would be the bottleneck and it would take me a long time to write texts / keep notes. This was not true, as I got used to it in a short time and I managed to keep perfect notes with only a few mistakes throughout the document - keep in mind that I have relatively fat fingers.
  6. Using MS office was indeed necessary so the existence of MS Office 2013 in the T100 was much appreciated; I managed to revise a presentation I downloaded from Google Drive and work on some documents in MS Office without a problem. However, I should note that the use of a mouse instead of the touchpad made things a tad faster.
  7. The spare USB 2.0 port on the keyboard was handy e.g. for using a mouse. The touchpad was nice but a mouse makes things faster in many cases.
  8. The flexibility of attaching the keyboard (e.g. for note-taking) and detaching it (e.g. for reading or sharing something around the table with colleagues) was really handy, too!
  9. The tablet's screen is magnificent: bright, clear and responsive to usage as a touch screen; however, it is still 10-inch one.
My workflow consisted mostly of keeping notes using Evernote Desktop app, checking PDFs and other documents, web browsing, emails, social media etc. Nothing too intensive but still T100 performed way much better than my netbook.

My working space at the Bristol hotel in Amman

However, I also had some issues while using T100:
  1. I had my emails stored along with Mozilla Thunderbird Portable (we are talking about full portability here!) in an external HD, a USB 3.0 WD My Passport Essential 500GB (WDBACY5000A), a disk properly functioning in USB 2.0 ports. I tried to use the keyboard's USB 2.0 port but despite the fact that the disk's light went up and I heard the disk spinning, the disk was not recognized by the T100. I tried downloading the SES drivers from the WD website but it made no difference; I had to use the micro-USB to USB adaptor for the USB 3.0 port of the tablet.
  2. The tablet can only be charged only by using the micro-USB port so when the tablet was charging I could not use my external HD.
  3. Charging and using the tablet at the same time was rather slow; I suspect that it might be due to the type of power outlet (in Amman you may find a UK, a EU and other types of outlets) but in any case, I tried to charge the tablet during the night (for a good, long charge).
  4. Why didn't I just copy the inbox and Thunderbird to the T100? Because my inbox is > 18,5 GB at this point, so I would waste more than half of the available storage space (there was additional software stored and space allocated to other files as well).
  5. All my work files are stored in Dropbox and they currently occupy about 7,5 GB; due to the limited storage space, I had to copy the entire Dropbox folder to my external HD and use files from there. This means that the files were not synced with Dropbox so I will have to copy the folder back to my work laptop and sync them from there with Dropbox and my other machines. (Note: I could just have synced specific folders instead of the whole Dropbox, which I later realized that it could have been a saver...)
  6. The USB cable provided for charging the tablet was too short so even when I had access to a power outlet, it was not possible to work while charging unless I was sitting next to the outlet (which was not possible). A longer cable could be purchased individually but there may be issues with slow charging as I read in several fora.
  7. Last but not least; working long hours in a 10-inch screen might be hard for your eyes; the solution would be the use of a micro-HDMI to HDMI or VGA cable so that I could connect T100 with the large flat TV available in my hotel room but I was not prepared for something like that.

My overall impressions? Definitely positive! I managed to do what I had to do with a tiny machine of just about 1 Kg of weight instead of carrying around my 17.3-inch laptop (which would be my second option). On top of that I had the flexibility to use the T100 as a tablet when needed just by removing the keyboard. I did not miss my large laptop at any time, even when I had to work with the presentation. Even though I had to change my workflow a little bit (e.g. see the issue with the inbox and Dropbox) the T100 made up for that thanks to its flexibility and long battery life, which proved really important. This should definitely be in my wish list ASAP!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Summer 2014 - Working under hard conditions...

This year I got two weeks of summer vacations starting early August and I planned to be totally disconnected from the internet, having 100% family vacations - this is why I did not opt to get any data plan for the specific period. However, something unexpected came up and I had to do some work during these days, so I had to slightly revise my plans. Since we had already booked ferry tickets and made arrangements, the only thing that I could do was to slightly revise my plans, including my packing plan - only to realize that I would need to get an additional backpack with me. After checking out the options I had and making a draft plan of the work I had to do, I decided to take the following stuff with me in my retired but still functional Trust 600B-15 Urban Notebook backpack, on top of the stuff that I would normally take with me during my vacations (ok, I would take some of them with me anyway!):
  • Acer Aspire One 751h netbook: My old and slow netbook, currently powered by Peppermint OS 5 Linux, served two main purposes; I used that for connecting to the internet, downloading emails and doing some work (as planned) while the kids could also watch some cartoons saved before the trip in the external hard disk. Its battery still holds more than a couple of hours, making it usable for trips. Carrying around my 17-inch laptop that I use at the office was not an option, due to its size, weight and limited battery capacity.
  • Nokia Lumia 720: It was totally exploited during the trip; not only it served as my mean of communication with the rest of the world through voice calls, but it was also my internet hub, sharing a 3G internet connection with the netbook (there was no wifi available at all times but unfortunately there was no mobile network as well!). It also served as a digital camera supporting my Olympus E-PM1 & used for taking videos (when my Olympus was not handy) and also for alternative internet usage such as emails, web browsing, social media (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook), checking out places worth visiting (sights, restaurants etc.) mainly through TripAdvisor and even creating lists and taking notes with Evernote. It was frequently charged with its own micro-USB charger.
  • Olympus E-PM1: My small mirrorless digital camera, mostly used with the Panasonic Lumix 14mm/F2.5 pancake lens. Wide enough to capture everything and lighter/more compact/brighter than the kit 14-42mm/F3.5-5.6 which I also carried with me. The camera was backed up by a 2nd battery and a charger as well as a 8GB microSD card with SD adapter.
  • Paper documents, related to the work that I had to do during my holidays and a paper notebook for keeping notes on the road/when away form the netbook/mobile;
  • Wallet with cash and debit cards; the latter are not always accepted in Greek islands (e.g. cafes, some restaurants, bakeries etc.);
  • Philips Sound Dot MP3 player: Was mostly used mostly at the beach and while the rest of the family was asleep. My oldest son also proved to be a fan of the playlist that I had made, so he used the MP3 player for some time, keeping him busy.
  • Credit Card Survival Tool; proved to be really useful for opening beer bottles and other stuff;
  • Klean Kanteen 20oz (592ml) Insulated Water Bottle: I cannot imagine going to summer vacations (and not only) without this stainless steel water bottle; it might be a little heavier than an aluminum one, but it has vacuum double walls for insulation, it does not have internal linings from dangerous substances, it is durable and wide mouth=easily washable and easy to fill with ice! It can be used as a drinking cup as well, in cases where no glasses are available (e.g. in rooms to let) or when you don't want to constantly open the fridge for getting cold water.
My digital camera and water bottle

What did I expect to find at my destination? Best case scenario included an unlocked WiFi network (which was rather impossible, due to the remote location of the village) with basic connection speed or at least a good mobile network signal (e.g. 3G).

What did I actually find? Indeed an unlocked WiFi network but with about 50% signal strength and slow speeds as well as a really bad mobile network signal - 3G was out of question! What I did most of the times was try to find locations were the signal for both networks was better, so  that I could send/receive emails and open some web pages I needed. Alternatively, I tried to work to the WiFi network early in the morning or late in the night, when the network was less used. In any case, I tried to do most of the work offline, while it was not possible for all tasks assigned...

All in all, I managed to performed at least the basic tasks within the deadline, while the ones requiring an active internet connection were planned for the next week, when I will be back in the office. It was a hard two-weeks period, but I think I managed to keep everything under control. :-)

Monday, July 28, 2014

Book on "Livestock Handling & Transport": A well-accepted gift!

Being a regular Twitter user (both for personal and for professional purposes; I manage the Agro-Know Twitter account apart from mine), I came across a tweet from @Cabi_News about a competition that was running:

I  happened to have heard of Dr. Temple Grandin, Professor of Animal Sciences at the Colorado State University due to her work related to autism (but she seems to be of many talents, as many autistic persons I know), and so I had some (small) previous information about her and it was easy for me to get the correct answer; it seems that I was the first one to respond, so I was informed that I was the winner of a signed copy of Dr. Grandin's book titled "Livestock Handling and Transport". Being an agronomist myself, I still keep an interest for purely agricultural topics despite my professional involvement in other aspects of agriculture (e.g. agricultural digital repositories, agricultural bibliographic resources, etc.), so I found myself interested in the topic of the book, which by the way is published by CABI.

It seems that people at CABI did their best in order for me to receive the book as soon as possible and indeed I received it today, only a few days after we exchanged some messages about the delivery of the book! What a wonderful prize; a high quality publication on glossy paper, about the proper, fair and humane management of livestock of various types. There are chapter contributions from several authors, a fact that makes the book really interesting.

Wonderful gift from CABI and Dr. Temple Grandin

I am really looking forward to start reading it and I will do my best to find some time to review it as well (as long as I first find the time to read it though!). Until then, you can find additional information about the book at Amazon.

Friday, July 4, 2014

SemaGrow 2nd Hackathon - Introductory Course

It seems like it has been ages since I last participated in an event; in fact it has been only one month since my participation in the "Agriculture for Life, Life for Agriculture" International Conference. This time I was invited to give a presentation on Agricultural and Food Safety Data in the context of the 2nd SemaGrow Hackathon. The Hackathon was organized by Agro-Know, a partner of the SemaGrow project, and hosted by the Institute of Informatics and Telecommunications (also a partner of the SemaGrow project) of NCSR Demokritos, and took place between 4-7/7/2014 (the full program is available here). There is also some information about the Hackathon at the Agro-Know wiki.

The Hackathon was conveniently collocated with the International Research-Centered Summer School in Cognitive Systems and Interactive Robotics, Data and Content Analysis (IRSS 2014), a fact that allowed the participation of a high number of people with technical background and skills. It was attended by about 40 people from various countries all over the world. My involvement was focused only on the first, introductory day of the event but I am sure that there will be a number of interesting outcomes coming out of the hackathon.

My presentation was mostly based on existing material, reusing slides from presentations prepared by Nikos and Giannis for related purposes; I just had to update some parts and slightly adapt it in order to meet the requirements of the specific audience. Despite the fact that I know the subject pretty well (I have been working with agricultural data and data sources for the last 4-5 years), it did not make sense to me to leave these nice slides aside and prepare something from scratch. It seems that the presentation was well-accepted by the participants, as I received some nice feedback and it managed to raise some interest, leading to interesting discussions with some of them.

You can find some photos from the 1st day of the Hackathon here.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Making a (brand new) start in Agro-Know

Let's start with the basics: I am an agronomist with a PhD in Agricultural Biotechnology and I have experience in metadata and digital repositories, as well as related stuff. Due to some internal re-organization in Agro-Know I have recently switched to another position, moving from the data team to the business development one. This means that I have to finish all my data-related pending tasks and delegate the ongoing ones to my colleagues in the data team. From now on, I will deal with issues related to the marketing of Agro-Know, related networks, the social media of AK as well as marketing material.

I have to admit that it is rather awkward, as I have been working with metadata, digital collections and related topics since I started working with EU projects, some 5 years ago. At the same time, it is really challenging, as I will get to work more on stuff that I really like, such as blogging, social media etc., while I will also check my ability on handling stuff like printed marketing material, communication with graphic designers and web developers, stuff that I am not really comfortable with. I guess that this transition is fully compliant (and a result I would say) of the fact that in AK everyone gets the opportunity to be more involved in what he/she really likes and less in things that he/she would rather avoid - see the related blog post here.

It is strange how I ended up in this new placement; through my involvement with the dissemination of the projects that AK was involved using social media and the fact that I keep this blog for describing mostly what I am dealing with in my working days, I was eventually made responsible for the AK blog, then for the AK Twitter account, the rest of the AK social media channels and now I find myself in a totally different position in the company.

In any case, this change of responsibilities is combined with a change of working space; I will get to move in one of the more quiet rooms of AK which is pretty cool! I will miss direct communication with my colleagues but I admit that I enjoy the silence more than most of my colleagues... :-P

In addition, this will be an opportunity for me to spend some time on getting rid of things that tend to accumulate on my desk but I don't use; a part of them will be data-related deliverables, notes etc. but I suppose that I will be surprised by what I will find among my stuff!

Messy desk, and this is only a part of it!

Friday, June 6, 2014

International Conference "Agriculture for Life, Life for Agriculture"

The International Conference "Agriculture for Life, Life for Agriculture" was organized by  the University of Agronomic Sciences and Veterinary Medicine of Bucharest (USAMVB) between June 5 - 7, 2014 in Bucharest, Romania, at the USAMVB premises. By conveniently collocating the Herbal.Mednet 4th project meeting with the Conference, the Herbal.Mednet project partners were allowed to participate in the second day of the Conference and actively contribute to it by delivering a number of presentations.

The Conference covered a wide variety of topics and consisted of the following 7 sessions
  1. Agronomy
  2. Horticulture
  3. Animal Science
  4. Veterinary Medicine
  5. Land Reclamation, Earth Observation & Surveying, Environmental Engineering
  6. Biotechnology
  7. Management and Engineering in Rural Areas
In addition, it included a number of keynote speeches from various speakers. You may find the full program of the Conference here.

The 2nd day of the Conference, which we attended and participated in, was well-organized and attended by about 100 people, including university staff, students as well as participants from other organizations and initatives. Dr. Salvador Sanchez was in the panel of the specific session of the Conference and he also presented the case of the Open Discovery Space (ODS) project. His presentation was followed by the one by Prof. Vicente Castell-Zeising from the Polytechnic University of Valencia, on the cultivation of organic medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPs) in Spain. Then, Marta di Pierro from AIAB, the new Herbal.Mednet project partner, presented the marketing aspect of the MAPs in Italy using a Prezi-based presentation, which came out really interesting. She has a really interesting story to share about her participation in the Conference, the preparation of her slides and how she managed to transfer the slides from her iPad to a USB stick! ;-)

Created with flickr slideshow.

Victor Gonzalvez from SEAE made a presentation on MAPs in Mediterranean countries in general. The session closed with a presentation by me, on agriMoodle, as an adapted version of the popular Moodle platform, for delivering online agriculture-related courses. The presentation was based on a paper that we have recently submitted to the AGRIS Online Journal, describing the agriMoodle platform to be used by Herbal.Mednet during the online trainings which are to take place mainly during the summer of 2014. For some strange reason, for once more I found myself as the last in the list of presenters for the specific section and we had already ran out of time when I started my presentation; as a result, I had to skip some slides and make a summary of the others and this was not exactly how I have planned my presentation. However, I am always flexible and easy-going, so there was nothing wrong with that. I have to admit that the audience was really interested in the presentation, a fact I really enjoyed!

Overall, it was a nice opportunity for Herbal.Mednet project partners to expose their experiences and knowledge to a wider audience and I believe that the partners made good use of this opportunity. It was also an interesting contribution to the whole Conference, providing a set of presentations on MAPs, which receive an increased interest by various stakeholders during the last years, due to their useful properties. On top of that, the presentations on the ODS approach and the agriMoodle development provided a view on the educational and learning approaches followed at a European level, both as methodology (ODS) and as actual software tools (agriMoodle).

Herbal.Mednet 4th project meeting

Some weeks ago I was asked to represent Agro-Know in the 4th project meeting of the Herbal.Mednet project, replacing my colleague Andreas who would not be available at that time (4-6/6/2014). That would be a nice opportunity for me to get to see old friends like the local hosts of the project, as well as the rest of the project consortium, which I have met in the previous project meetings. Despite the fact that I am not directly involved in the project, I always keep an eye on its progress and outcomes and of course I am checking out how the agriMoodle platform developed by Organic.Lingua is (going to be) used by the Herbal.Mednet project.

Flights were booked (direct ones!), hotel room was booked, arrangements were made so I found myself in Bucharest, outside my hotel at about 11.30 in the morning. However, the room would not be ready before 13.30, so I decided to leave my stuff and take a walk around the city. The walk in the huge park near Arcul de Triumf should have been refreshing; however, the weather was rather warm and humid, so walking around was rather difficult.

The first day of the meeting started early in the afternoon of 4/6 and was dedicated to the results received by the Spanish National Agency after the interim reporting. Some issues were identified and solutions were proposed for the partners responsible to address them. The meeting took longer than expected, due to the fruitful discussions among the project partners. This time, we had the pleasure to meet two new faces in the consortium: Marta di Pierro from Associazione Italiana per l’Agricoltura Biologica (AIAB), Italy, Italy, which replaced the ex-partner SERIFO and Kostas Gardikis from Apivita, replacing Tasos Choukalas who usually represents the company in the project meetings. In both cases, we were really glad to meet the new persons, who managed to positively affect the meeting with their fresh ideas.

The participants of the Herbal.Mednet 4th project meeting

The second day of the meeting included discussions on the financial aspects of the project and the remaining issues to be resolved. Apart from that, the plan for the pilots in each user country was presented in some details, while additional presentations provided information on the progress related to the revisions of the project's website and the course management platform to be used for delivering the online courses. During the afternoon of the 2nd day, we had the pleasure to meet Prof. Vicente Castell-Zeising from the Polytechnic University of Valencia, who is a member of SEAE as well. The 2nd day ended with a classy joint dinner provided by our local hosts (Prof. Roman and Dr. Maria Toader).

The 3rd day of the meeting included the participation of the project consortium in the "Agriculture for Life, Life for Agriculture" International Conference, the first session of which was dedicated to presentations from the Herbal.Mednet project partners.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Back in the office - Introduction to Timeful

So I am back in the office. For good; or for at least one month (the next trip is planned for early June). That sounds like a relief after spending almost three weeks in a row out of office, participating in various events namely:

  1. The CIARD/GODAN 1st Consulatation Meeting (22-24/4/2014, Rome, Italy);
  2. The Organic.Lingua 3rd (and final) review meeting (28-30/5/2014, Luxembourg);
  3. The ARIADNE Foundation General Assembly (5/5/2014, Athens, Greece);
  4. The EdReNe 11th Conference (6/5/2014, Athens, Greece);
  5. The LRE Subcommittee meeting (7/5/2014, Athens, Greece).
My contribution in each one of these events significantly varied; in one of them I was invited to participate as an external observer, in another one I had a small presentation and contribution to discussions, in another I was responsible (among others) to formulate the agenda of the Conference and also make presentations and for the first two ones in the list I had to allocate a significant amount of time and effort for preparing my slides, the sessions I was responsible for and for making the presentations (among other types of contributions).

While I was out of office, new tasks were added to the list, old ones needed to be finalized and shared with colleagues and on top of that, urgent tasks came out of nowhere and required special attention in a short notice. Despite the fact that I tried to plan my activities carefully and take care of the ones that could be handled during (or even before) these fully packed days, it was not possible to keep my schedule under control. In addition, I found it rather hard to focus on the office routine during the first hours, so I decided to spend some time on preparing myself and doing less demanding stuff.

Some days are more demanding than the others...

This is when I found out about Timeful; it is an app which promises to help you keep things under control, even under hard days, acting as an "intelligent time manager". This sounds like a thing that I could surely make good use of, so I decided to take the online quiz and see where I stand. After I replied to the simple 10 questions of the quiz, I got the following result, which is really close to the impression I also had.

I was also provided with some useful recommendations on improving my situation:

Improving balance:
  1. As you plan your day, make sure to give yourself a bit of buffer time. Unexpected things are the norm, not the exception, and stress is often caused by not allowing time for the unexpected. In fact this is a thing that I already apply to my schedule, but sometimes even buffering is not enough...
  2. Start each day by naming one MGD ("Must Get Done") for that day, and put it on your calendar. Then get to it first thing in the morning. I am also doing this more or less; prioritization of tasks is a key to accomplishing them on time. However, I admit that I prefer to send my emails early in the morning, so I will (or at least I hope so) get my responses before the end of the day; in the meantime, I can allocate time in urgent tasks.
  3. In the battle for your time, things that get scheduled will win over things that aren’t scheduled. Book plans with your friends and family right into your calendar, then protect them as you would a business meeting. This is something that I will need to work on; it seems that putting focus only on business tasks and neglecting the personal/family ones acts as a boomerang and in the end it effects the business planning.
  4. Make sure to schedule "me time." Eating well, sleeping, and working out make us human and happy. By the way, even if you don't care about being happy or human, it actually makes us more productive at work! This is also a point to take into consideration; it's easy to neglect everything and focus on work...

Improve your productivity 
  1. The hardest part of a task is usually starting it. You can avoid procrastinating by making the start more enjoyable. Pour yourself a cup of coffee or cocoa and sip it during the first five minutes of the task. By the time the coffee is done, you’ll be well on your way. 
  2. Checking off little to-dos and responding to emails can give us the short-term illusion of being productive, but it’s the important, tough, and time-consuming stuff that makes us feel accomplished in the long run. 
  3. Break your important projects into subtasks and give yourself a pat on the back each time you finish one. Then check it off your list. 
  4. Knowledge is often best disseminated through informal interactions. When you need to learn something, don’t call a meeting, but ask someone to get a quick cup of coffee. 
  5. When you have important tasks, mark off blocks of your calendar as “busy,” so your time can’t be hijacked by co-workers. If “busy” doesn’t stop them, use important-sounding fake meetings.

It all has to do with time management but not only, and the Timeful app got it right; time is limited and we need to see how we can get the best out of it. Some things will stay in the agenda, while others will have to be delegated or even declined. In any case, I am really anxious to start using the Timeful app as soon as it becomes available, hoping that it will (at least partially) help.

LRE Subcommittee meeting

The LRE Subcommittee meeting took place at the premises of CTI "Diophantus" on 7/5/2014, following the 11th EdReNe Conference. This allowed a number of the LRE Subcommittee members to attend the EdReNe Conference, combining the trip and creating opportunities. The meeting is closed and limited to the Subcommittee members; however, I was invited to participate as an external observer, along with other members of the Agro-Know team. I quote a text from the LRE website, in order to provide some information on the LRE initiative:

"Learning Resource Exchange (LRE) Operations
European Schoolnet (EUN) is at the forefront of global initiatives related to the exchange and interoperability of digital learning resources. With the commitment of its participating Ministries of Education and support from European Commission research programmes, European Schoolnet is continuing to build a Learning Resource Exchange (LRE) service for schools that enables teachers and learners to access and use educational content from many different countries and providers.
The Learning Resource Exchange was developed by European Schoolnet and its supporting Ministries of Education as a result of work in a number of EC-funded projects (particularly CELEBRATE, CALIBRATE and MELT). This resulted in the launch of the LRE as a publicly available service in December 2008.
At the European Schoolnet Steering Committee meeting in November 2009, Ministries recognized that, while the LRE had initially been designed as a service primarily for MoE, regional authorities and other organisations were also active LRE partners. In this context, Ministries in the EUN Steering Committee agreed that a new LRE governance mechanism should be put in place to allow for the fact that increasingly regions, municipalities and other educational content and tools’ providers (from both the public and private sectors) might wish to join the LRE.
At its meeting on 26 May 2010, the EUN Steering Committee duly created a LRE Subcommittee to define the strategy and operational rules of the LRE and to manage its ongoing development."

Indeed, we identified some aspects of the ongoing LRE work that we could provide some feedback, even solutions in some cases. Apart from that, there were interesting discussions on the next steps of the LRE activities and the approaches to be followed. Despite that fact that I had to leave before the end of the meeting, I felt glad to be able to participate and see the current status and the future steps of LRE.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

EdReNe 11th Conference

The 11th EdReNe Conference took place on 6/5/2014 at the premises of the Computer Technology Institute and Press "Diophantus" in Athens, Greece. It was co-organized by Agro-Know and CTI, while Angeliki has put a significant amount of time and effort in finalizing the agenda of the meeting, taking care of all the practicalities/logistics ensuring that everything will flow smoothly. It was my 3rd participation in a row in an EdReNe Conference and this time I had the honor to make the introduction and welcoming (short) speech!

Introduction to the 11th EdReNe Conference

Despite the fact that traditionally EdReNe takes place by the end of each year, this time we explored the opportunity to host it a little bit earlier; this would allow us to collocate it with other events and also to investigate funding opportunities in the context of the Horizon 2020 programme. Indeed, the EdReNe 11th Conference took place a day after the ARIADNE foundation General Assembly for 2014 and a day before the LRE Sub-committee meeting, a fact which allowed members of the two networks to attend the EdReNe Conference as well, actively contributing to the agenda of the event and bringing an alternative approach to it.

This time the EdReNe Conference consisted of the following sessions:

  1. Learning Resource Exchange panel 
  2. Social Data & Analytics: Social Data aggregation for learning recommenders and analytics
  3. Linked Data in Educational Repositories
  4. Exploiting Data for Educational Purposes
  5. Training Academy for Content Providers: An Open Discovery Space session aiming to provide the basic principles to people who wish to create and operate their own repository/metadata aggregator
  6. News from Members
Partial view of the 11th EdReNe Conference participants

You may find more information about each session in the agenda of the Conference. What I liked in this Conference is that it included (as usually) a wide variety of topics related to learning resources and repositories within each session; 
  • ongoing EU projects, 
  • linked data for repository managers (e.g. ARIADNE linked data exposure) and applications of linked data (e.g. Europeana Judaica), 
  • social data, platforms and tools (e.g. the demo of the AgLR tool), 
  • presentations aiming at repository managers, 
  • presentations aiming at content providers, 
  • initiatives at national level (e.g. Photodentro) and at international level (e.g. Terena OER aggregator), 
  • presentations through Skype (Enayat Rajabi/UAH) and Webex (Karin Whooley), 
  • portals (Scoilnet & Green Learning Network / Organic.Edunet), 
  • visualization of metadata management workflows (elastic search / Kibana), 
  • discussions, panels etc. 

All these in just one day - from 09.00 to 19.30! It is obvious that the day was full and the agenda was packed with presentations, demonstrations and discussions; in order to stick to the program we needed to make several adaptations on the fly and in the end we managed to finish only 30 mins later than planned; however, the discussions were so interesting that noone complained. The day ended with a dinner at Scholarheio restaurant, only a few minutes from the meeting place.

I was really glad to see friends from the previous EdReNe meetings (Henk, Elena, David, Manon), meet new people (such as Elina Megalou, our hostess) as well as to be able to participate among friends and colleagues; it was this collaborative work that brought the nice results of the Conference. Big thanks also to Enayat and Karin for their remote participation! It is nice to see this dedication from the network members to EdReNe, especially taking into consideration that there is no funding for traveling and participation to the events. Overall, the meeting was a success, managing to bring together people from different networks, initiatives and projects, both old EdReNe members and new potential ones, blending the experiences with new ideas.

There was no discussion about the hosting of the next EdReNe Conference; however, there is an opportunity for Italy (which was not represented in this event) to host it - more information to be available soon.

Monday, May 5, 2014

ARIADNE General Assembly 2014

The ARIADNE Foundation General Assembly for 2014 took place on 5/5/2014 and was hosted by Agro-Know at the Agro-Know offices. The ARIADNE General Assembly is a private meeting restricted to the ARIADNE members and considers the new status of current projects, opportunities and general ideas so there is not much to say here. Some of the discussions included the role of networks such as EdReNe (Educational Repositories Network) and GLOBE (Global Learning Objects Brokered Exchange); in this context, I was invited to make a presentation regarding my participation in the previous two EdReNe Seminars (9th and 10th respectively), as well as to provide some information about the upcoming 11th EdReNe Conference which takes place in Athens, Greece on 6/5/2014, co-organized by Agro-Know and 
the Computer Technology Institute and Press "Diophantus".

Nikos Manouselis makes an introduction to the meeting

I was really glad to meet some of the ARIADNE members participating in the meeting, like the current president Frans van Assche (with whom we have met in the previous EdReNe Conference in Brussels), Manon Haartsen from Kennisnet (with whom we have met twice in the previous EdReNe Conferences) and Julien Broisin who has a long background of involvement with ARIADNE. He was also the one who pointed out that ARIADNE is in fact an acronym which stands for "Alliance of Remote Instructional Authoring and Distribution Networks for Europe" - as you know I love such trivia information! Apart from that, Kostas Vogias was representing GRNET, Miguel-Angel Sicilia represented UAH and Enayat Rajabi (UAH) participated through Skype.

During the short lunch break

Apart from that, ARIADNE has developed a software infrastructure, including the widely used ARIADNE harvester, which has been reused by several projects in several cases. If all go well, we should expect more advancements and developments from ARIADNE in the near future ;-)

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Organic.Lingua 3rd Review Meeting

The Organic.Lingua project officially ended on 28/2/2014, after 36 months of effort towards re-engineering the Organic.Edunet Web portal and enhancing it with multilingual functionalities, among several other outcomes. A consortium bringing together language technology experts, domain and ontology experts, content providers, developers etc. worked towards the development and integration of automatic metadata translation functionalities in the Organic.Edunet Web portal and other tools, a multilingual metadata authoring tool, a revised ontology and metadata application profile and a well-defined sustainability and exploitation plan, just to name a few of the project's outcomes.

I personally have a special connection to the Organic.Lingua project; you see, the first project I got involved in when I started working with EU projects back in 2009 was Organic.Edunet. I spent numerous hours manually creating metadata records for the project (specific collections), providing Greek translations of metadata and then reviewing the quality of metadata records from other content providers of the consortium. In the context of the Organic.Edunet project I made my first project-related presentation (at the 5th Pan Hellenic Conference of Ecology, Patra) presenting the Organic.Edunet Web portal, and I also ran an autumn training school as a trainer by the end of the project, collocated with the Organic.Edunet Final Conference and Final Review Meeting in Budapest, Hungary in September 2010. Since then, I have spend several months on the Organic.Edunet Web portal and the collections, checking the integrity and quality of metadata and searching for new content providers. The end of the Organic.Lingua project does not mean that this effort will stop; instead, we plan to work intensively on the expansion of the portal and integrate additional revisions. However, it looks like a circle has closed and we will move forward with other projects.

Promoting Organic.Edunet, 22/10/2010

The project's 3rd (and final) review meeting took place between 28-30/4/2014 at Luxembourg. In fact, the first two days were dedicated to the preparation of the presentation to be delivered during the actual Review Meeting on the 30th of April, the preparation of the scripts for the demos of the Organic.Lingua tools etc. In this direction, the whole Organic.Lingua project consortium had the opportunity to meet for the last time and work collaboratively in order to ensure that all achievements of the project would be properly presented and attributed during the review meeting.

These have been three days of intensive work, working long-hours and spending more time together with the project partners. The UAH team, coordinating the project (and not only) during these three years, was populated by Salvador Sanchez, Giannis StoitsisDavid Martin MoncunillMeritxell Mallona Ponce and me while the Agro-Know team was proudly represented by Nikos Marianos.

Organic.Lingua review meeting
Coffee break during the review meeting

The review meeting took place at the EuroForum building of the European Commission. All consortium members were present (at least one representative from each project partner) along with Aleksandra Wesolowska, the project officer of the project and the two reviewers: Dr. Phillip Cimiano from the University of Bielefeld, Germany and Dr. Piek Vossen from Vrije University, the Netherlands. As usual, the presentation included an overview of the outcomes per Work Package according to the project's DoW and based on the feedback received during the previous review meeting as well as a demo during which project partners used the outcomes of the tool (e.g. the MoKi tool for the management of the ontology, the Organic.Edunet Web portal and its multilinguality features as well as the AgLR tool and the agriMoodle platform for the multilingual management of educational resources and courses respectively. During the meeting there were long discussions focusing on specific aspects of the project, such as the exploitation of the outcomes, the sustainability and of course the application of the approaches selected by the project in other contexts.

Even though it is way too early to extract precise outcomes from the meeting, the first impressions were positive; it was obvious that the consortium has taken into consideration all the feedback received during the previous review meeting, additional deliverables were provided when necessary and effort was focused on the aspects of the project which needed revisions etc. The reviewers had a deep knowledge in the technologies used by the project, which led to fruitful discussions during the meeting, and at the same time it was obvious that the exploitation of the outcomes and their sustainability through business models etc. were of special interest. However, the consolidated report which is expected within the next months , should provide more detailed and accurate feedback, as well as the final mark of the project.

Apart from that, it was nice for the consortium to have the opportunity to meet for the last time and have some time together; apart from the intensive work during these three days, we had the opportunity to see a little bit of the city of Luxembourg, try the local dishes and enjoy the Champions' League matches of Spanish teams (Real and Atletico Madrid respectively, both of which did a great job btw!) while enjoying a glass of beer and snacks. After these three years of excellent collaboration between the consortium members, this was something that came out naturally. I really hope that we will have the opportunity to join our efforts in the near future, too!

Salvador leading the social event
Apart from that, it was a nice trip to Luxembourg, among good friends and colleagues and we certainly had some fun as well during these three days. Luxembourg is an expensive city but having a good company and a good mood can make up for that!