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Archive for January, 2005

Seafood Watch Wallet Card

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I’m so proud of my friends. Vienna picked me up from the airport today and on the drive back to Oakland, she told me a story about eating out in Ann Arbor and passing up a restaurant that serves mako shark. More than a few of my friends have sworn off eating shark (especially shark fin soup) after learning about how horrible fishing practices are (see some photos of what it’s like to overfish sharks — and these are the guys who are properly using the entire animal. most shark finning operations fin live sharks and leave them to die in the ocean).

I went to a friend’s wedding rehearsal dinner last year where they served shark fin soup. If she wasn’t such a good friend, I might have walked out.

Anyway, go download the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Wallet Card and start eating seafood responsibly!

Hmmm. I’m sort of hesitant to post this sort of thing because people obviously can go further and start boycotting just about everything we humans do. So those of you who are extremists can go ahead and label me a hypocrite — but you have to pick your fights, and this is one that I’ve chosen.

Oakland, CA | link | trackb | 12 comments » | Jan 31, 2005 18:15:27

Test Post for Show EXIF Cookie

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This is a test post for Aaron‘s request for default “Show EXIF” behavior in journal entries. Well, Aaron — it’s here! Give it a try and let me know what you think.

It’s not retroactive because I’m lame and don’t have a dynamic photo display system (yet), but from now on, all photos I post here will have the option to automatically display EXIF data.

I also stuck the archive links into a scrolling div. The style branches based on whether you are using IE or not, so it should look fine when using FireFox or IE on a Windows box. I have no idea what it is going to do on a Mac. Safari has never rendered my site properly, but FireFox on the Mac should be fine. :)

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Chicago, IL | link | trackb | 2 comments » | Jan 30, 2005 15:59:32

Long layover in Chicago — Sherry Hsieh

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sherry’s chicago phase

This is my third time in Chicago, but it’s really my first time seeing any of the city. I arrived on Friday afternoon and took a cab over to see Dan Baldocchi, his wife, and his cute and slightly hyper dogs. We had a nice Cuban lunch and then went over to see Will Whedbee, the talented luthier who made my cello. I loved seeing Will’s studio and the unfinished instruments he was in the process of making.

Sherry Hsieh and Jens Thiele have been great hosts. We’ve been eating well, and today we wandered around downtown Chicago, spending some time in Millenium Park and up on the 96th floor of the Hancock building. For lunch, Sherry’s friend Linda Sheu took us out for Korean food. In the car, Jens asked, “Linda, are you Chinese, or Korean?” (read more »)

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Chicago, IL | link | trackb | 5 comments » | Jan 29, 2005 22:15:28

Portland, Maine with Bret Gilliam

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lobster shack

I spent the last few days in Portland, Maine, where it was a brisk -5°F in the morning and a blistering 9°F at high noon. New England in the winter is beautiful! While out there, I met with Bret Gilliam, Nic de Gersigny, Stuart & Michelle Westmoland, Ethan Gordon, and Jenny Collister. Thanks especially to Bret’s wife, Gretchen, who is one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met. :)

I’ve also decided that I really like icicles, cheesecake, and acoustically- isolated home theater rooms.

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Chicago, IL | link | trackb | no comments » | Jan 29, 2005 21:36:36

Blue Shield of California Dental HMO = bullshit

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The Blue Shield of California Dental HMO is a piece of crap. I’ve been on the plan over a year now, and since then it has done absolutely nothing for me, mostly because I can’t find a provider who will stay on their roster! The first office I picked refused to accept insurance when I needed a crown (a result of a chipped tooth) because Blue Shield has a 12-month waiting period before you can file any “serious” claims. The next time I needed a visit to the dentist was a couple of weeks ago, and when I talked to my provider I discovered that they were no longer accepting Blue Shield HMOs — but of course, neither Blue Shield nor eHealthInsurance (the agent I used to sign up for Blue Shield) notified me. So I picked another dental office and filed for the switch, which was scheduled to happen on Feb 1st. Fine. I could wait a couple of weeks. But today, the new dental office called me and told me that they had just removed themselves from Blue Shield’s list as well. Now, I’m really pissed off because I already had an appointment with them for next Friday.

Now, I’m faced with choosing yet another dental provider, and may not even be able to get service covered until the 1st of March. Even if I switch to a PPO, it will probably take some time for the new coverage to kick in, and I can’t wait that long. I had half of a filling fall out, and it pisses me off that I can’t get even get a visit to the dentist covered by my fucking insurance, even though I actually have insurance specifically to address incidents like this.

What a broken system.

UPDATE: I’m happy to see that a google search for “blue shield dental hmo” lists this page in the first page of results.

Portland, Maine | link | trackb | 30 comments » | Jan 27, 2005 22:32:45

Hot 97 WQHT / Miss Jones Tsunami Song

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Mike Sun, a reader here, wrote a comment a few days ago about the racist Hot 97 tsunami song that has been (barely) in the news recently. Miss Jones’ morning show was suspended today, and a few of Hot 97′s sponsors (Sprint and McDonalds) have yanked support from the station. Good riddance. I hope the suspension lasts.

Continue reading for more information. (

Portland, Maine | link | trackb | 8 comments » | Jan 26, 2005 23:01:02

Wendy’s Visit, Felix in Orinda

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wendy visits

My sister Wendy is here visiting, and (unfortunately) will be leaving early tomorrow morning to drive back down to Los Angeles. She’s currently out in Oakland somewhere, which means that she’ll be driving on not much sleep tomorrow morning. Someone call her to make sure she gets there safely! I’ll be in an airplane, flying off into the cold.

Wendy and I spent most of the weekend seeing various friends. On Sunday we went to see cellist Felix Fan, an old family friend, perform with the Worn Chamber Ensemble in Orinda. They played works by Persichetti, Felciano, Revueltas, and Ginastera, but I wasn’t thrilled by any of the music in the first half. I did, however, enjoy the second half, but mostly because Felix kicked serious ass on his cello. I only see him once every couple of years, and it’s always good to see such a familiar face.

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Oakland, CA | link | trackb | 4 comments » | Jan 25, 2005 00:44:21

Scalable Shoe Box

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After six hours and one minute of trying to figure out a way to properly tag and browse his digital photos, Chester gives up and writes:

What I’m saying is that I think I’m going to fire up Adobe Illustrator to draw a scalable shoebox in which I will then dump all my gigabytes of photos.

I sort of agree. Any demanding, computer-savvy user will come to the same conclusion after doing a similar amount of research. It certainly can be done, but you have to have to be willing to sacrifice living for documenting. Speaking of that tradeoff, I’m on the edge of what I find to be acceptable, and I’m always working to find ways to either 1) not care about documenting stuff or 2) make my documenting workflow faster. Option #2 seems to be a fine solution so far, but at some point I think life will push me towards option #1.

And please don’t tell me to use iPhoto. I’ve used it, and it’s a piece of shit. If you’re happy with a product like that, you’re simply a different kind of user than I am — and in fact, you are truly blessed. (The reasons for this blessing are all clearly organized in my head, but as a self-imposed push toward option #1, I’m going to end this entry now

Oakland, CA | link | trackb | 10 comments » | Jan 25, 2005 00:04:12


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The forecast for Portland, Maine shows that the low will be between -1 and -7° F while I am out there. I do not believe I am equipped to handle such temperatures.

Oakland, CA | link | trackb | 7 comments » | Jan 24, 2005 01:03:36

Encounter with Great Hammerhead Shark

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During a shark trip to the Bahamas in 2003, I was sort of rammed by a great hammerhead shark. Well, it didn’t ram me, but it was close enough that I had to club it with my camera a few times. For some reason, when I jumped into the water the guy came swimming at me — very quickly — in a not-so-friendly way, pectoral fins down. Normally, I have no problems with being bumped by sharks, but it’s pretty clear when a shark is being aggressive — and this one was clearly being aggressive. I had seen similar behavior the year before when a petite woman named Murni did a giant stride off of the swim step, but in that case the hammerhead stopped before he got to her. And it wasn’t even a big deal because she never saw it. :)

Anyway, I remember triggering the shutter as all of this was happening, but all of the resulting photos were blurry because I was just snapping blindly. And for some STUPID reason, I deleted most of them, including one in particular that I really wish I had kept (the latter half of the hammerhead, blurry, as it was turning around me).

One of the photos survived. It’s not that exciting, but it makes me smile when I see it. :)

moments before contact

Um. Hi, Mom! Pretend you never read this entry. :)

Oakland, CA | link | trackb | 12 comments » | Jan 21, 2005 19:41:11

Matching Hues and Dark Grays

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I have achieved chromatic nirvana. I don’t even know why I tried for so long with any sort of LCD display. (read more »)

Oakland, CA | link | trackb | 6 comments » | Jan 20, 2005 23:53:38


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Elliot and Mandy came over tonight, and we ordered pizza and watched movies and television for awhile together. I enjoyed their company a lot, even though we didn’t really talk much. It reminded me of being pseudo-roommates during the past year (when I was in town, that is). And also, Elliot and I got to make fun of a documentary on beavers (the dam-building kind [1]. mandy was cooing their cuteness the whole time) shown in HD, which I decided is just a super cool unsharp-masked version of reality. [2]

And now, I’m … unsettled. I have to make a lot of progress on a few things during the next few days before I leave for Maine. Specifically, I have to write an article for Tauchen Magazine that became fully defined in the not-so-distant past. I also have to get going on my Wetpixel redesign and rewrite, which is not going to be easy. I also would really like to post my travel journal about Rajah Ampat. Oh, and I have to set up my new server.

But what I’d really like to do is curl up with someone in front of the TV. And maybe get all of these old prints into boxes and archival sleeves. And get rid of (sell) all of the crap that I have left over from the move. And maybe get on a normal sleeping schedule. With a few minor organizational things taken care of (and one major interpersonal one ;), I think my mind would be clear enough to do the other things, maybe.

Multitasking is evil, and I hate that it’s become my way of life. I think that’s why I relish moments with friends so much — it’s the only time my head isn’t divided up into tiny pieces.

[1] My beautiful and thoroughly crazy Italian friend Marta is sometimes called “Beaver” (in Italian) by her Italian friends, in Italy. When Marta first started interacting with English-speaking folk, she once asked an entire table of people whether they would like to see her beaver. She left out the word, “impression.” And now, she’s off to Turks & Caicos, where she will be an “intern”, which she informs me is some kind of tampon in Italy.

[2] I had cable installed today — and was lucky because one of the two guys in the local comcast installation fleet who could have pulled it off in my unit showed up purely by chance. My cable jack is under the stage, and you have to be thin to get to it. When the guy called me and had an Asian accent, I thought: thank god! he’s going to be thin. So, yippee. I have cable. Come over and watch TV. [3]

[3] Yes, I’m copying Chester‘s footnote style. I like it, dammit!

Oakland, CA | link | trackb | 6 comments » | Jan 20, 2005 00:12:11

Mozilla FireFox Saved Passwords

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If you are using Mozilla FireFox (which you should immediately download if you are still using Internet Explorer), make sure you set a master password for your profile. Otherwise, all of your saved passwords are accessible as plain text in the options screen!

To set a master password, go to Tools->Options->Privacy->Saved Passwords and click on “Change Master Password”.

My favorite “why FireFox is better than IE” article is here. Why? Because it’s a SLATE article, and that’s just funny.

Oakland, CA | link | trackb | 5 comments » | Jan 19, 2005 13:43:41

Dinner, everywhere

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raw fish rules

The days (and late evenings, and very early mornings…) are keeping me quite busy, and I seem to have been on the telephone for a several days while resolving a bunch of crap that doesn’t really matter. Although, it all has to get done eventually, so I might as well just do it now. Luckily, I have the company of a few friends to distract me for a few hours each day.

Photos in this entry: a visit to Redstart to see Mandy, Dinner @ Chez Pannise Cafe with Cindy, huge amaebi at Chika with Geoff and Livia, miniature flywheel cars with Elliot, dinner at Luna Park, and dinner at with Mandy’s mother + company.

Oh, and I ate at
Tamarine in Palo Alto the other day, with Angel. My sister didn’t really like the food when she ate there last, but I thought it was tasty. Also, I had dinner at Chenery Park tonight before seeing Hotel Rwanda with Livia and Vienna. It’s a bit overpriced, but it’s a comfortable place. Feels like a “typical” dinner in New York to me, sort of.

All this nice cuisine, after sinking to my lowest food point ever: the tupperwaring of an unfinished frozen dinner, followed by a reheating two days later. I have no food here.

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Oakland, CA | link | trackb | 2 comments » | Jan 19, 2005 02:36:10

Adam Nash’s Birthday Party

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nash turns 30

I had my annual Silicon Valley get-together in Los Altos last Sunday, where we celebrated Adam Nash‘s official arrival into old fogy-ness at the ripe age of 30. I rarely get to see the regulars at Nash parties, but I always enjoy the opportunity to catch up. It usually makes me both nostalgic about the good ol’ days as a software guy and happy that I’ve chosen a different path. (I had dinner with an old adviser/friend last night, who told me that he always knew that I didn’t have the personality to be a software guy; I guess I’ll take that as… a compliment?)

As usual, the Nash family prepared enough food to feed 4x the number of guests who arrived. One thing that I noticed was that the fruit was freakishly unblemished — and there was lots of it. Marni said that at Carolyn’s baby shower they actually picked out and discarded the bruised fruit before-hand, which I guess doesn’t surprise me that much. They are, after all, the Nash Family. :)

Anyway, it was a great party. I had prepared some prints for Cindy, who met me at the Nash residence and crashed the party. She knew most of the people there; many of those in attendence were CS/EE grads and Mayfield Fellows.

OK. Enough ramblings. See some photos:

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Oakland, CA | link | trackb | 3 comments » | Jan 19, 2005 02:21:10

Rainbows around shadow

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One of the best things about flying is getting look out the window. (read more »)

Oakland, CA | link | trackb | 2 comments » | Jan 19, 2005 01:31:58

Macworld 2005 San Francisco

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victor @ macworld

Macworld was fun, in a sterile, glossy-white + aluminum sort of way. The numerous male ponytails and black cowboy hats were fun, too. Mac guys Victor and Adam protected me from hordes of Mac people at the event, and I checked out the show, which consistely mostly of iPod and iLife accessories. Like last year, we wandered by the Xserve RAID, and I drooled over the flashing green and blue L.E.D.s. Yummy. :)

But in the end, I was pretty bored with the products, even though the Xserve and 30″ Cinema Display instilled massive gearlust in me. Also, the geek in me wanted to see Wil Wheaton talk, but I was there on the wrong day.

As I wandered by the Canon booth repeatedly, I was tempted to harrass them about the problem I’ve been having with my 1Ds Mk II. But I didn’t. Adam found out that two cameras — a 1Ds Mk II and a 1D Mk II — were stolen from the booth this year! How unfortunate for Canon. But since our cameras tag each image with the serial number of the camera, I’m sure they will turn up at some point.

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Oakland, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | Jan 19, 2005 01:18:05

Drowning in prints

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I just retrieved six boxes of photographs from Benjamin‘s place, where they have been stored for the past year or so. I plan to archive all of my un-archived negatives into sleeves, but the prospect is sort of daunting because there are literally hundreds of rolls.

I also have about a billion 4×6 prints that are floating around. I’m going to get some photo shoeboxes and give them to visitors to hunt through. If you’re over and you see a photo you like, please take it. :)

And finally, I was looking at some photos I took in 2000. I knew it already, but seeing the photos again was brutal validation: I was an extremely crappy photographer back then.

Oakland, CA | link | trackb | 2 comments » | Jan 18, 2005 18:26:36

Flickr is awesome.

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test image from flickr

After a tip from Nikhyl Singhal at Nash‘s birthday party two days ago, I have finally discovered Flickr, which is by far the best photo sharing service/community I’ve seen. It’s fast, their privacy policy and terms of use are friendly, and uploading 100 pictures is as easy as dragging them into a window on your desktop (or, I hear you can use iPhoto integration. ;). If Flickr also supported the importing of IPTC data to use as captions and keywords, I’d be very tempted to switch over for my normal journal images. But it would then be impossible to automatically inline the thumbnail table in specific entries, like I do now (also a problem I had with EE).

Flickr also supports automated photo blogging to WordPress. Would someone please be a guinea pig and try it out? I’d like to see what happens. :)

Anyway, it doesn’t matter so much at the moment because until they get IPTC import working, it’s not feasible for me to caption and tag every image. Tagging images using a web interface? No way, man. The forums are filled with requests for IPTC support, so I’m sure the dev team is hard at work on it — especially because Picasa already works with IPTC. But Picasa is scary because the local application finds all of the images on your computer. shudder Yes, I realize that you can specify which directories Picasa will look in, but most serious photographers I know have complicated workflows that involve lots of temporary images and images that definitely shouldn’t be cataloged. My workflow is like this, and I don’t want any sort of automated cataloging.

I love talking about all of this stuff, but I’m definitely afraid of letting a third-party service have the responsibility of my image storage. Keeping everything local to echeng.com is definitely safest.

Oakland, CA | link | trackb | 13 comments » | Jan 18, 2005 01:07:16

HMO Dentists?

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Crap. A filling flaked out last night. My old dentist decided to stop taking my insurance. Anyone have recommendations for a good dentist relatively close to Oakland (30 miles or so)? Requirements are that they accept Blue Shield HMOs and are taking new patients.

Oakland, CA | link | trackb | 2 comments » | Jan 15, 2005 11:47:20
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