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Archive for December, 2003

Xylophones and Frogs

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And finally, scary propaganda – the General’s Grapes of Love:

There’s no way she’s three. My Korean friends who are musicians are all older than their press materials say they are.

I just took a look at some more of the North Korean videos on robpongi.com. Very… scary.

San Carlos, CA | link | trackb | 2 comments » | Dec 31, 2003 18:01:52

Kensington Pocket Mouse Pro, and why it sucks

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I’ve been looking for a little travel mouse for a long time. I finally settled on a Logitech MouseMan Traveler, which I like a lot (I’ve always liked their mouses). Before the Logitech, I had a Kensington Pocket Mouse Pro — the one that has a retractable USB cable, which I thought was a nifty feature. My Dad uses a Kensington as well. Unfortunately, there is a fatal flaw in the Kensington mouses I’ve tried that makes them impossible for me to use: the Windows XP driver makes the cursor jump to the default button on popups — possibly one of the most annoying features in Windows computing today (a couple more: 1) modal dialog boxes that force their way to the top, grabbing focus, and 2) the lack of a Windows key on IBM Thinkpads). I can’t tell you how many times I cancelled things on accident. With the Kensington mouse and Windows XP, you can’t change this behavior for some reason. So… no more Kensington mouses for me. Anyone want it? :)

San Carlos, CA | link | trackb | 14 comments » | Dec 31, 2003 15:29:04

BreezeBrowser EXIF Operation Crash Fix

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A post, just for search engines to find:

After upgrading to some flavor of BreezeBrowser 3.7, the program (which had been rock solid in the past) started to crash during certain operations involving EXIF data. Specifically, if I tried to copy EXIF data around from images taken with multiple Canon cameras (the 1Ds, D60, and S50), BB would sometimes crash or freeze with 99% CPU usage and ever-increasing memory usage. When restarting BB after a crash/freeze, merely clicking on a culprit image would result in an immediate crash. Restarting BB again and doing any other operation not involving the culprit image would somehow “fix” the problem temporarily — until another crash.

Chris Breeze, BreezeBrowser’s author, had never heard of any such stability problems. Finally, in desperation, I deleted BB’s registry entries and re-registered my install (I was now using version 3.8, with the same problems happening). The problem went away. Chris thought that it might be a problem with certain color profiles, but it’s impossible to know. I’m just happy that it’s stable again. Over the years, I’ve been really impressed with Chris’ responsiveness in bug reports and feature requests. BreezeBrowser is definitely worth every penny it costs to register. [check it out]

UPDATE Jan 9, 2004: It turns out that ACDSee’s rotate routines were corrupting Canon MakerNotes, which crashed BB. Chris has since added a sanity check to BB so the program won’t crash if it finds corruption. Here’s the message he sent me:

“What appears to have happened is all the portrait orientation shots have corrupted Canon MakerNotes and this is causing BreezeBrowser to crash. … I’ve added a “sanity check” in BB which should prevent the problem. … It appears that something is taking a JPEG with Motorola aligned Exif and is trying to rewrite it as Intel aligned Exif but is leaving the MakerNote Motorola aligned.”

San Carlos, CA | link | trackb | 4 comments » | Dec 31, 2003 13:59:52


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Is it worth having print exhibitions if I lose money doing it? I barely broke even during the last show, and I’m very unlikely to come out ahead in the one I’m having now. We’re talking purely about dollars spent, not including the time that those involved devoted to set-up, etc. The problem seems to be that “interesting” photos aren’t necessarily ones that people would want to hang up on their walls. I’ve tried to balance interest and eye-candy. It’s quite convenient when they both happen to grace a single print, but that isn’t always the case. “Themed” shows are also difficult because it takes a certain collection of photographs to tell a story. You can’t just pick out the ones that might sell and slap them onto a wall.

I guess I’m frustrated because I’ve shelled out nearly $2K to make this exhibition happen — and that’s doing it the “cheap” way, trading my own labor and the labor of loved ones to help lessen the costs. $600 of it was for some prints that I prepared for a fund-raising auction. Only three out of six made it into the auction, and only one was sold. There was a pre-arranged deal that stipulated that I would not lose money by donating prints (the costs would be paid back to me), but things didn’t work out that way. Yippee.

The last show was cheaper per print, but that’s because I bought relatively cheap frames. I won’t make that mistake again.

If I can’t break even at a specific venue, I will no longer show groups of prints like this. I suppose I should just try to show a print or two at larger spaces, where a larger event is taking place. The preparation cost would be significantly lower, and I would recoup my costs by selling even a single print.

And then there’s the web. Eventually, my products will be available through online purchase, where the overhead (for me) is virtually nothing. So I guess I’ll work towards that. :)

More on frustration: maybe it’s also because I’m tired, and/or because my parents keep making comments about specific entries on this journal. I’m not used to having “real life” reach into my virtual life so directly.

But I am tired. I’m don’t feel like spending time with people, so I’m hiding here in my sister’s room: an enclosed space where the wireless network still reaches — any depressed tech-head’s haven. Now if I could only figure out how to make my hands thaw out. I’m freezing.

My Sister's Room | link | trackb | 7 comments » | Dec 29, 2003 20:32:55


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Once again, all of the relatives in the United States on my Mom’s side were found together in San Diego — without Wendy. Putting up the show yesterday was a piece of cake with their help, and we have been spending most of our time gorging ourselves on various meals and between-meal meals. :) Also, I’ve posted some photographs of dinners with various family friends. [see some photos]

North County San Diego, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | Dec 29, 2003 00:30:26

Exhibit – Warm and Fuzzy

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Hi, all. Thanks for making the show opening such a success! It was a little frustrating that I wasn’t able to talk to anyone. But it was still great to see you all. :) (updated entry, with photos)

North County San Diego, CA | link | trackb | 2 comments » | Dec 29, 2003 00:16:38

SD: +7°F

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It’s 39°F outside. Isn’t it supposed to be warm here?

dusk in del mar. the two blips up top are venus and a passing airplane.

I apologize to those of you I’ve been neglecting (but you’re all busy with the holidays, anyway). I’ve almost literally spent all of my time here so far assembling frames and preparing for the opening tomorrow. I’m going to have to get up “early” in the morning to put together slides for the 2:30pm lecture on underwater photography. A warning: it will be very basic with regard to actual photography techniques, so don’t come until 3:30pm if you are already an established photographer. :)

I’ve been wearing the coconut shell necklace Pamina gave me for a few years now, but I think I misplaced it while I was in Indonesia. I feel naked. :(

It was Mandy‘s birthday yesterday. Happy Birthday, Mandy! I’m glad we’re all growing “old” together. :)

North County San Diego, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | Dec 28, 2003 00:58:08

Galapagos Exhibition Opening, San Diego – Dec 28, 2:30pm

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Hello, guys. I will be showing photos from the Galapagos at an exhibition in the San Diego Taiwan American Community Center from December 28 until the end of January. The opening will be held on December 28th at 2:30pm. Please come, if you can! You can show up anytime in the afternoon, until gallery close (6pm, I think?) [more info]

a preview: most of these photos were taken in the galapagos

UPDATE – DEC 28 I’ve posted some photographs from the event. Thans you all so much for coming! We packed over 100 people into that little gallery space. :) It was really nice to see friends and family there: all of my extended family living in the States (except for Wendy, who is off in Hawaii for the new year), Eryn Roston, Teri and Norm Hamson, my old neighbors the Sullivans (Brian, Shawna, and Mom), Angela Filose, Mr. Syndromes, Sven and Moonpuddle, Nick Abadilla, his wife Nancy, their super-cute daughter Sophie, Oliver/Melissa & Mother Miao, Mel, James Wiseman and Sarah, the Tarng family, the Fans, Doug, who came to my last show, Didi, who is a new acquaintance somewhere out there on the web, Wen, who joined us for Thanksgiving dinner, James, who was with us for dinner on Christmas Eve, and Stephanie and Jennifer, whom I both met on Christmas, and the rest of you who have been so supportive over the past year. [see some photos]

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 16 comments » | Dec 24, 2003 07:25:19

Little Red Ants

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Every half an hour, I find a little red and crawling on my computer. I think some have taken residence inside, which unfortunately reminds me of the computer that Jim Watt lost to a colony of ants in his very own home. These little red guys are the same ants I saw at Wakatobi. Will I get in trouble for bringing ants native to Tukang Besi home with me — through Bali and Taiwan? What if they are evolutionarily superior and wipe out the local ant population? :)

CKS Airport, Taipei, Taiwan | link | trackb | 5 comments » | Dec 23, 2003 06:06:36

Hey, Neat!

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    I was browsing around my referrer logs today, and found that this journal has been nominated for Best Taiwanese Blog. I have all of *two* votes! Yeah, baby. [vote for me]
Wakatobi Resort, Sulawesi | link | trackb | 3 comments » | Dec 20, 2003 05:59:43

Stormy Weather

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Yesterday was gorgeous, but last night, the wind and rain picked up, and it hasn’t stopped since. The weather these past few has been somewhat inconsistent, presumably because the rainy season is just around the corner. However, underwater, it’s always good. There’s no runoff here to spoil the visibility. :)

a clownfish portrait

There are many, many neat critters here to photograph. I’m having a great time with them. :) The staff here timed a delicious outdoor feast with my birthday a couple of days ago, and brought out a birthday cake at dinner’s end. Birthdays are getting less exciting these days, and being here without spectacle and gifts was just fine. :)

me, playing around underwater (photo: dave patchen)

Thanks again to all of you who sent nice birthday wishes! :)

Wakatobi Resort, Sulawesi | link | trackb | 21 comments » | Dec 18, 2003 02:22:31

E-Mail down for a few hours

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If you tried to e-mail me, send it again. :)

Wakatobi Resort, Sulawesi | link | trackb | 5 comments » | Dec 14, 2003 01:39:07

Pygmy Seahorses

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I have a fever. Something has been going around the guests and staff here, but it seems to be something like a 24-hour flu and it goes away relatively quickly. However, I’m not taking any chances, and am taking the day off from diving.

Speaking of the diving, the reefs here are the lushest I’ve ever seen! Pristine coral growth covers literally every square inch of the walls we have been diving, and the possibilities for macro photography are endless. I saw my first pygmy seahorses; it’s hard to appreciate how small they are until you actually see one. We’ve seen both the smallest and largest species so far, and even the largest ones are significantly smaller than a typical pinky nail.

A pair of pygmy seahorses at Waiti Ridge

I’m also impressed with the way Wakatobi is run. So much energy (and money) goes into working with the local population to conserve the reef, which is every dive resort’s primary asset.

Wakatobi Resort, Sulawesi | link | trackb | 2 comments » | Dec 13, 2003 17:53:34

Hot and Humid

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I’m sick of sharing.

I think it’s just a phase, however, because I’m sure that I’ll be posting a big trip report with hundreds of photographs as soon as I return to the States. :)

Someone got mad because I said that Taiwan smelled. I edited the post… because… well, I’m not sure why. But just because. :) But you cannot deny that there are some bad smells in Taiwan. Even the area between the airplane and the terminal smelled.

My time on airplanes can be depressing; it’s the only large block of time I have to really reflect on what’s going on in my life. I wrote a bit in my journal between my flight from Taipei to Bali, and it was actually quite depressing, for some reason (issues with music vs. photo, which have been at odds with each other… and some other stuff). Strange to have depressing thoughts when the public view of what I’m doing is so “perfect” — or so I am told by everyone who says that I am living a dream life. Of course, these people are the people who only see the superficial aspects of who I am. I do appreciate what I have and what I’m doing very much. But the real problem is that I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m only happy because I’ve postponed all thoughts around figuring out what I’m going to do “when I grow up” in order to pursue photography for the short term. So at least I have some short term goals.

It is quite hot and humid here. I spent the last two days in Ubud, up in the “mountains” of Bali, where I had probably some of the best and worst food I’ve ever eaten (we’re still recovering from the spicy chili). The tourism industry here is suffering, and many of the areas we’ve been seem almost empty. My travel buddy, Dave, was bitten by a macaque yesterday, which was pretty exciting. I have a picture of the entire exchange. :) It’s been disinfected, but he’s feeling a bit “achy.” I hope it’s not because of something the monkey gave him.

OK — it’s back to the hotel for me. We’re flying out to Sulawesi tomorrow for 14 days of diving at the Wakatobi resort. I can’t want to see the pygmy sea horses! It’s also mola mola migration season through Balinese waters. I hope to see them, but I’m not sure if they are found where we’re going. [Oops -- I think what I read was wrong. People here tell me they migrate through here in the summer!]

Sanur, Bali, Indonesia | link | trackb | 20 comments » | Dec 7, 2003 23:54:10

Gone until Dec 23

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I’m off to Indonesia. I doubt I’ll have internet access there, but who knows? :) Happy Holidays!

Taiwan rules. Even before I got on the airplane, I had to push someone to get where I needed to go. He tried to walk between me and the woman who was taking my ticket during the boarding process, and I had no choice!

Stuff I’ve forgotten so far: iPod (sitting on a desk at “home”), swim suits (uh.. I’m stupid).

I’m sure the list will grow.

CKS Airport, Taipei, Taiwan | link | trackb | 6 comments » | Dec 5, 2003 16:01:22

Gathering in Twin Peaks

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December 2, 2003 – My friends are so cool. Somehow, being out of town so much has made my time in San Francisco with my friends more social, and more intense (you know, since I sleep over at their places all the time. :). We had decided last week to have a little dinner gathering at Geoff and Livia‘s place, but what I didn’t know is that they would turn it into a not-so-surprising surprise birthday party! (the surprise was foiled because no one else knew how to get in touch with Emile and Zhenya. hehehe). Livia cooked up a huge Indian feast (it took her two days), and we sat around listening to music and chatting. Even my sister showed up for awhile! Somehow, she always has things planned when we gather at Geoff and Livia’s place. Also present was the elusive Jim Batcho, who allowed me to take photos of him eating before retreating home to finish some work. Heidi drove up from the South Bay after finishing a final, and Emile, Zhenya, and Clara all stayed out late on a weeknight. Thanks, guys. :) [see some photos]

CKS Airport, Taipei, Taiwan | link | trackb | 2 comments » | Dec 5, 2003 15:56:35

Tony and Ai-Jen

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November 30, 2003: On Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend, our family drove up to Orange County for Tony and Ai-Jen’s reception. Tony and I have been friends since we were little kids, and I’m very happy for his happiness with Ai-Jen. Many of their friends flew over from New York for the banquet, and it was obvious from the evening (or, “the program,” as Ting and Scott kept calling it) that the participants were used to organizing gatherings and events. :)

Ai-Jen was dressed in a white dress for the first part of the reception, but changed into a beautiful, traditional red dress not long into the evening. As she walked by, I overhead one of her friends (joking, of course): “Is that Ai-Jen? She’s hot! Is she taken?” Speaking of their friends, it was plainly obvious that the two of them have really touched the people they surround themselves with.
[see public photos] [see private photos] (ask Tony for access info)

CKS Airport, Taipei, Taiwan | link | trackb | 1 comment » | Dec 5, 2003 15:54:08

Thansgiving in SD

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November 27, 2003: How can the weather in San Diego be so good all the time? It’s amazing, really. Our family had a lovely Thanksgiving dinner; we don’t really celebrate the day as a proper holiday, but we do take advantage of the opportunity to have a big feast.

I played tennis three days in a row, after not picking up a racket for a probably a couple of years. It was pathetic: I was sore, even though the games weren’t very strenuous. [see some photos]

CKS Airport, Taipei, Taiwan | link | trackb | 1 comment » | Dec 5, 2003 15:46:53

Photo Matting

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Why does it cost so much to get a photo matted? I normally buy them online, but for this coming photo show in San Diego, I just don’t have the time to do it myself. I called the local FastFrame here in Noe Valley, and they wanted $46 each for matting + backing my prints to 24″x18″. I managed to haggle them down to $40 each, but that’s still ridiculous. My normal San Diego FastFrame will go no lower than $24 each, even though just last January I managed to get them to do it for $15 each.

Anyone know of any local, inexpensive, high-quality matting sources (in SF or in SD)?

San Francisco | link | trackb | 9 comments » | Dec 3, 2003 16:27:53

Asian Blush, RU-21, Pepsid, etc.

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NEW I’ve created a forum to handle all the discussion that has been going on here. Its URL is: http://echeng.com/asianblush/

Go to the forum and post your questions and answers! (comments closed, below)

Here is the original post:

Can someone in the medical profession out there educate me about RU-21? In theory, it might be able to “help” prevent the Asian Blush. Some sites say that it actually helps to metabolize acetaldehyde, but other sites say that it slows down the ethanol oxidation to acetaldehyde. One of my friends has been taking it, but he isn’t sure that it is “working.”

I don’t drink much, but when I do, I sometimes take Pepcid AC 30-60 minutes before having any alcohol. I find that it usually prevents me from turning red, but (un)fortunately makes me tipsy rather quickly.

Jan 11, 2005 UPDATE — Hey, guys. The response here has been overwhelming! I’ll install forum software soon and get a link posted here, so we can all post anecdotes.

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 127 comments » | Dec 3, 2003 16:11:10
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