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Archive for July, 2006

Yes, there was a reason

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Dear y’all. I didn’t port my existing Verizon number over to Cingular because of various valid reasons involving contracts, Family Share plans, and existing Blackberry service. The end. Now you can stop asking. :)

Oakland, CA | link | trackb | 8 comments » | Jul 31, 2006 19:48:06

Xanga RSS

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For awhile now, I’ve been bitching about my friends who use Xanga because Xanga doesn’t by default publish links to RSS feeds — and I basically don’t read blogs without RSS feeds. I don’t know why it took me so long to find out the magic URL to get RSS from Xanga:

http://www.xanga.com/rss.aspx?user=username

Now it’s just the friends who update manually using HTML and friends on Blogger whom I shall continue bitching to. :)

UPDATE The Atom feed for BlogSpot users is:

http://www.username.blogspot.com/atom.xml
Oakland, CA | link | trackb | 8 comments » | Jul 31, 2006 17:18:09

Aaron Logan, referrer spam fighter

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Although Aaron Logan masquerades as a hematologist by day, he is a referrer-spam superhero by night. I’ve just updated my .htaccess file with his anti-referrer-spam entries. Check ‘em out, if you hate referrer spam.

Oakland, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | Jul 29, 2006 19:11:13

Tony Wu posts video of our whale encounters

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Tony Wu has posted a short video of some of our whale encounters last week. Video footage was taken by both Tony and his wife, Emiko, using a Sony HC3 in a Seatool housing.

Oakland, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | Jul 29, 2006 16:43:05

Dreaming Through the Noise, Vienna Teng

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Dreaming Through the Noise, Vienna Teng

While I was in Tonga last week, Vienna Teng‘s third album, Dreaming Through the Noise, was released. I’ve been listening to the album for about half a year now, and I really like it. Back in February, I flew down to Los Angeles to document Vienna’s photo shoot for the album. A lot of coordination has been going on behind the scenes since then, and she has just left for an insane tour of something like 36 cities in less than two months.

Due to the lack of overlap in our two schedules, it has been 16 months since I have seen Vienna perform. Luckily, I follow her progress via the reports of her crazy fans. If you see her on the road, snap a photo of her and send it to me. :)
[buy DTTN @ Amazon] [NPR Director's Cut Blurblet]

Oakland, CA | link | trackb | 4 comments » | Jul 29, 2006 14:55:47

Humpback mother and calf, part 3

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mother humpback whale and calf

The humpback mother and calf (Megaptera noveangliae) from the past two days still weren’t in the mood to play, but we found another mom and calf. These two were totally accepting of our presence, and we spent 6 hours in the water with them. It’s rare for me to fill my memory cards, but after the day was over I had 744 underwater whale images totalling 10GB! I am sore and tired. Here are a couple teasers, but I’m keeping the best images private for the moment. (read more »)

Vava'u, Tonga | link | trackb | 10 comments » | Jul 27, 2006 22:40:35

Canon 1D cameras are weather proof!

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I just thought of a funny anecdote about the fantastic weather-proofing of Canon 1-series cameras. When I was out photographing great white sharks a couple of weeks ago in South Africa, we had a day of rain out on the boat. I stood out in the rain for hours, chatting with Chris and Monique Fallows, who were sitting on the engines at the boat’s stern. A few of the other clients were huddled together in the tiny area of the boat protected from rain, and someone finally commented, “uh… you guys know it’s raining, right?”

At that moment, I realized that I was using my Canon 1D Mk II and attached 70-200/2.8L IS lens (weather-proof as well) to prevent the sandwich I was eating from getting wet. It must have looked really funny. People think I’m crazy when I use my gear in the rain or on boats in rough weather, but I’ve never had a problem. The gear is designed to be used like that!

Vava'u, Tonga | link | trackb | no comments » | Jul 27, 2006 22:39:09

Humpback mother and calf, part 2

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We found the mother and calf humpback whales (Megaptera noveangliae) again today. The little guy was obviously ready to play, but Mom didn’t let him even though we spent six hours with them. He did, however, breach a bunch of times.


a baby humpback whale breaches. they try so hard!

I also took a really bizarre photo of the baby as he landed in the water close to the boat (the breach itself was way too close to shoot!). (read more »)

Vava'u, Tonga | link | trackb | no comments » | Jul 26, 2006 22:33:10

Humpback whale mother and calf, Tonga

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mamma humpback whale and young calf

You know that mother and calf humpback whale (Megaptera noveangliae) we had to abandon yesterday? We found them again today, and our encounters were amazing. After being in the water with them several times, the mother finally decided that she trusted us and allowed her calf to come literally within arm’s length. Whales are big.

More photos follow… (read more »)

Vava'u, Tonga | link | trackb | 7 comments » | Jul 25, 2006 22:47:09

Another day in Tonga

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Yesterday was a fantastic first day out on the water. Within half an hour of leaving the dock, I was floating above two juvenile humpback whales. The rest of the day presented us with no less than five breaches close to the boat; unfortunately, all of them were single breaches, making it very difficult to get a good shot (Tony got one).

Tony keeps saying that Tonga is a place where chaos reigns in various degrees — and today, I finally believe him. Nearly all of the whales we saw today ended up out in the rough water (where we were unable to follow in our little boat). In the late afternoon, we finally found a mother and calf just sort of hanging around, but just as we decided to slip into the water, we ran out of fuel. Yep. The operators hadn’t refueled the boat overnight. Tony quickly grabbed the 20-liter reserve tank and dumped it into the fuel reservoir… and the engine refused to start. So we watched as the mother and calf drifted away slowly, which was pretty frustrating.

Ten minutes later, the engine still wouldn’t start, and quickly forgot about the whales when we discovered that we were being blown toward an island — and its surrounding reef. (read more »)

Vava'u, Tonga | link | trackb | 2 comments » | Jul 24, 2006 20:40:36

Featured in DiveFilm Podcast

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Mary Lynn Price has put together an interview of me in her latest DiveFilm Podcast. It features some of my still photos and video footage as well. Um… check it out, if you’re interested. :) [DiveFilm @ iTunes]

Auckland, New Zealand | link | trackb | 1 comment » | Jul 20, 2006 19:58:11

Toonel.net network accelerator

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I’m currently connected to the innernets using a Blackberry as a modem, and have taken advantage of the layover I was bitching about in the last entry to search for a good network accelerator. After a lot of (unaccelerated) reading, I settled on trying toonel.net, and I am happy to report that it rocks. I am now using it as a proxy for all web and e-mail traffic, and am reporting an average compression ratio of 48% (jpg quality 70 and .gif quality “medium”). Image compression is easy to turn on and off, so I can grab original images when I want to. The only downside is that it’s a pain to change POP, SMTP, and IMAP settings for multiple accounts in my e-mail client. I wish I could save account settings and toggle between them.

If you’re on dial-up or frequently connect using GPRS or EDGE, you should give toonel.net a try.

Auckland, New Zealand | link | trackb | no comments » | Jul 20, 2006 19:49:07

Twiddle twiddle twiddle

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There is nothing as boring as a 17-hour layover. If I weren’t so tired, I might have rented a car and spent the time driving around beautiful New Zealand. But instead, I’m sitting in a cheap motel processing photos and watching episodes of Deep Space 9 (yes, a geek to the end).

Tonight? A flight to Tonga. And then another early-morning layover before yet another flight.

Also, I just discovered that there is a flight from LAX to Tonga, with a short stopover in Fiji. AMEX Travel really screwed this one up! In addition to getting a crappy connection and layover, Air New Zealand didn’t have any information about me other than my name, when I arrived — no destination, nothing. Oh, and AMEX sent my ticket receipt to the wrong address. I’m going to have to seriously reconsider using them again.

Auckland, New Zealand | link | trackb | no comments » | Jul 20, 2006 18:00:51

Brainstorm: server and backup

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My file server at home has 2TB (accessible) in a RAID 5 configuration (which has already saved me once). At this moment I only have 370GB free, and have already started thinking about how to grow it properly.

To back up my server, I currently use a 1.6TB Infrant ReadyNAS box, a 300GB external drive, and a 500GB external drive. That gives me enough room to back up all of my files with a bit of room for versioning.

So here’s how I envision growing:

  1. 2.3TB (2TB accessible) RAID 5: Personal files and photos
  2. 2.0TB ReadyNAS, RAID 0: Backup of personal files and photos (have to buy this)
  3. 1.6TB (1.2TB accessible) ReadyNAS, RAID 5: Media, music, and video
  4. 500GB + 300GB external drives: Selective backups of #3

Complicated. I need a live backup of #3, but I don’t want to buy two boxes at once. Argh.

Oakland, CA | link | trackb | 3 comments » | Jul 18, 2006 22:37:56

Countries visited

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My friends have been pressuring me to fill out the countries visited thingy. Here it is (via fred):


countries i’ve visited (make your own!)

I get shafted on this because so many of the countries I’ve visited are represented only by tiny red dots in Oceania.

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | Jul 17, 2006 17:05:06

I am so not a local

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I’m sitting at the corner coffee shop / cafe, and I feel like an outsider even though I’ve been coming here when I’m in town for nearly two years now. At least the others in my building get to say hi to me every day, even though I’m always out of town; they’ve been calling Greg by my name since I moved in. :)

Maybe I should move back to San Francisco.

Oakland, CA | link | trackb | 2 comments » | Jul 17, 2006 09:24:34

For sale: Storm iM2750 crush-proof, watertight case + dividers

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UPDATE, AUG 7, 2006 SOLD

Used Storm iM2750 crush-proof, watertight case for sale in San Francisco Bay Area (pickup or local meeting only). Continue reading for photos and more information. (read more »)

Oakland, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | Jul 16, 2006 18:07:12

23 hours in the air

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I slept 9 of the 11 hours of flight time between Cape Town and London. That’s my kind of international flight! :)

During my layover, I sat down at Nero Cafe and had a juice, chocolate pastry, and yogurt. The cost was the same as a full meal with appetizer and drinks in South Africa.

And now, I’m just about to begin the 12 hour flight back to San Francisco. I hope to be able to sleep through that as well. British Airways economy class gives you roughly 2 inches of room between seats, so I won’t be able to do any computer work on the flight.

Uh oh. A really large woman just sat next to me. I can feel her butt and thighs touching me, and the arm rest between us is being pushed up to rest on top of them. I’m not saying that she isn’t a wonderful woman. I’m just saying that she’s overflowing into my seat. Shit!! :( :( :(

Ok. She turned out to be nice. Now I feel guilty.

London Heathrow | link | trackb | no comments » | Jul 15, 2006 02:39:19

Great white shark breach, False Bay

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great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) breach, false bay, south africa

UPDATE Purchase a print of this image!

This is what I came here to get! Four days, and only one breach opportunity. Luckily, I managed to nail it. :) I was lucky, though — I had the camera in portrait orientation and when the shark rotated horizontal I managed to keep him in the frame without cutting anything off. I’ve been going out with Chris & Monique Fallows here in False Bay/Simonstown.

A big storm is going to hit Cape Town tonight. 5-meter swells and wind speed at 35+ knots. Gonna be fun.

Read more for two bigger images. (read more »)

False Bay, S. Africa | link | trackb | 56 comments » | Jul 12, 2006 06:54:48

Of Cheng fame

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I walked onto the boat this morning and introduced myself to a young couple from the U.K. who had booked for the day with Chris and Monique.

“Hello, I’m Eric.” I stuck out my hand to shake the guy’s hand. “Eric… of Cheng fame?” “Uh… yeah.” “Fuckin’ hell!” His wife: “No need to use that language!”

Hahaha. “of Cheng fame.” I’m going to have to remember that one.

Simonstown, S. Africa | link | trackb | no comments » | Jul 11, 2006 14:11:44
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