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Archive for September, 2006

Blocking out the world

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Adam Tow came over a couple of days ago and looked through all of my bags in an attempt to help me find my travel earphones of choice, which I thought I had lost during my last trip (no, it wasn’t his only reason for visiting). When he found them, he inadvertently revitalized my daily BART rides to and from my contract job in San Francisco. For some reason, the BART is incredibly loud when it goes under the Bay; I cover my ears sometimes because I don’t want to damage them. The earphones are like squishy ear plugs with speakers in them — perfect for trains and planes!

The recordings I have been listening to over and over again lately are the recordings of the Haydn String Quartets, performed by Quatuor Mosaïques (recommended by Geoff). My enjoyment of the quartet repertoire has gone full circle, its grand endpoint coming to rest squarely upon its humble beginnings. Normal life takes on a hazy, abstracted quality when Haydn is playing, and when the earphones come off, life slides viscerally back in front of me with a jolt.

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 1 comment » | Sep 26, 2006 17:18:51

iTunes: AAC Lossless to AAC or MP3 upon sync to iPod

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Hey, Mac gurus! Quick question for ya. I’ve got 8,118 tracks or so of AAC Lossless audio in my iTunes library, which takes up just under 200GB of drive space. Unless they come out with 250GB iPods, I’m sort of out of luck. :)

How can I have iTunes (or another iPod sync application) automatically reencode the tracks as AAC 256Kbps VBR (for example) upon copying to an iPod? (read more »)

Oakland, CA | link | trackb | 8 comments » | Sep 24, 2006 01:44:21

Brahms Piano, er… String Quintet?

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Carbon Fiber Cello

Reunited with Andy Lan, an old violinist friend from nearly ten years ago, I met up today with him and a few of his friends to read string quintets (2 violins, 1 viola, 2 celli) at a beautiful, Eichler-esque house in San Mateo.

We started by reading an anonymous arrangement of a virtuosic Kreisler sonata (originally for violin and piano), followed by a string quintet reconstruction of Brahms Piano Quintet in F minor, opus 34. I didn’t know this beforehand, but the Brahms quintet was completed in 1862 — originally as a string quintet! Anyway, it was really a lot of fun, and I really enjoyed meeting a few more talented musicians in the Bay Area who masquerade as normal folks in other professions during the day.

After reading music, I went with Livia to Han Kook in Cupertino for Korean-food shopping madness. (read more »)

Oakland, CA | link | trackb | 2 comments » | Sep 23, 2006 23:14:42

Affogato at Chez Panisse

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Affogato at Chez Panisse, originally uploaded by echeng.
The affogato at the Chez Panisse Cafe is to die for. Affogati are my favorite dessert, and I have yet to find a place that bests what they whip up at Chez Panisse.
 

Oakland, CA | link | trackb | 1 comment » | Sep 23, 2006 03:06:51

iTunes 7 broke my iPod Nano

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iTunes 7 must have been upset with me after I went on a rant about it not long ago. An hour ago, I plugged my little iPod Nano into my Mac Pro, and iTunes 7 rendered the poor thing completely inoperable. It took quite a bit of work to resuscitate it… (read more »)

Oakland, CA | link | trackb | 39 comments » | Sep 23, 2006 02:58:48

Collaborative underwater photography slideshow

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Wetpixel Slideshow

I’ve just added a page on Wetpixel where you can see a slideshow of the most recent images uploaded to our Flickr photo group. Having set up this new page, I feel the need to issue a serious warning: it’s yet another resource on Wetpixel that will cause you to lose productivity at work…

To participate in the slideshow, head on over to Wetpixel’s Flickr group, join it, and proceed to flood the group with your amazing underwater imagery. I look forward to seeing more participation!

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 2 comments » | Sep 22, 2006 17:47:38

Osvaldo Golijov visits San Francisco

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Last month, Osvaldo Golijov was in town with his son, Yoni, to work on a project with Francis Ford Coppola. The last time I saw him was in New York earlier this year; I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to photograph a series of his concerts at Lincoln Center, which was amazing, both musically and visually.

Geoff, Ozzie, Yoni and I had a nice dinner out in North Beach before heading back to Coppola’s place (one of many, I’m sure) to hang out and chat over cigars, wine and anisette. Unfortunately, none of the Coppolas were there. :)

view photos
Oakland, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | Sep 22, 2006 02:00:28

I knew I had my Thinkpad for a reason

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thinkpad water

In the spirit of owning things that are weather-resistant*, I was happy today to discover that in theory, my Thinkpad T60p is resistant to water being spilled on it (via Victor A.). I’ve always been paranoid about liquid anywhere near my computer, and knowing what those little holes on the bottom of my machine are for made me feel good.

My good friend Jim Abernethy recently had a computer destroyed by a glass of water (by one of his clients, no less). If he had been using a Thinkpad, things might have been different!

Of course, Thinkpads might only be protected against water spillage. During my freshman year of college, my roomate spilled a glass of orange juice onto two of my keyboards simultaneously. He neglected to tell me, and I only found out because just about every key stuck in the down position as I started typing…

Oakland, CA | link | trackb | 2 comments » | Sep 20, 2006 18:14:48

Wetpixel/Divester T-Shirt Design Contest

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Wetpixel T-Shirt

Wetpixel (the site I run) and the fabulous photo-folks at Divester are pleased to announce our first joint t-shirt design contest, and we need your help! Deadline for entries is September 30. After the deadline, Divester and Wetpixel will narrow the submissions to a slate of finalists. Then, we will reveal the finalists and allow you to vote for your favorite shirt. Thereafter, we’ll accept orders for the shirts for about 2 weeks. Depending on the design, expect each t-shirt to cost roughly $15-18. Any profits will be donated to a non-profit involved in ocean conservation. [how to enter]

Oakland, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | Sep 20, 2006 03:17:06

Automounting AFP and SMB volumes on Mac OS X

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Of all the things to spend a couple hours figuring out… (read more »)

Oakland, CA | link | trackb | 3 comments » | Sep 20, 2006 01:21:43

My sister

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050123_134359_echeng3290, originally uploaded by echeng.
This is a test post from Flickr. Testing! Testing!
 

Oakland, CA | link | trackb | 2 comments » | Sep 19, 2006 17:14:01

Tabbing to all controls in Mac OS X

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I’ll bet you’re all getting sick of all these computer posts, eh? Frankly, so am I. :) Whenever I try to browse the web on a Mac (usually in FireFox, but sometimes in SafarI), I go crazy because I use the keyboard a lot. When a login form presents itself, I type in my username, Tab, password, Tab+space to check the “remember me” checkbox. I also like to tab to buttons.

By default, the Mac only tabs to inputs and textareas, but you can change it in System Preferences -> Keyboard & Mouse -> Keyboard Shortcuts:

Keyboard Mouse Prefs
If you don’t see what you’re supposed to change, it’s the “All Controls” radio button at the bottom of the dialog box.

Oakland, CA | link | trackb | 3 comments » | Sep 13, 2006 19:34:53

iTunes 7 for Windows is unusable

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It is absolutely incredible. iTunes for Windows keeps on getting worse! The UI improvements in iTunes 7 are welcome, but I just tried playing a 320×240 downloaded podcast, and it totally takes down my 2Ghz Core Duo IBM Thinkpad T60p. Incredible.

In the little integrated video window, the podcast is choppy. Heaven forbid that you’d want to click on the video to bring it up in its own window. At default size, podcasts run at 2 frames per second, and audio filters in and out. I would have been really embarrassed to release a software product so crappy.

An anonymous iTunes development team member replied, “use the Mac version,” when I brought up the extreme shittiness of the Windows version. Nice. :)

Update: I’ve gotten one of my other Windows boxes to play video smoothly using iTunes 7 for Windows. All I know is that on my Thinkpad, iTunes 6 worked, while iTunes 7 barfs on video.

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 4 comments » | Sep 13, 2006 17:10:33

Converting WMA Lossless to Apple AAC Lossless

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I’ve also been migrating of my music library from WMV Lossless to AAC Lossless. (read more »)

Oakland, CA | link | trackb | 5 comments » | Sep 13, 2006 11:32:32

Mac OS X slow network performance to Windows XP

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Network Icon

My Mac Pro arrived. Victor and Adam came over to help me get things set up, but there really wasn’t much to do because I had already installed a bunch of software. We did, however, do some serious geeking out with Aperture (cool workflow! slow as shit!) and Final Cut Pro Studio, which simply eats up HD streams on the Mac Pro.

However, one thing I noticed immediately is that I could copy files at around 30MB/s across my gigabit network if the Mac Pro was talking to one of my Infrant ReadyNas boxes (AFP), but as soon as I tried to copy to or from Windows XP using SMB, network traffic slowed to a crawl. I was unable to transfer data faster than 4MB/s, which is 1/2 of real-world 100Mbps. Luckily, I found a fix late last night. (read more »)

Oakland, CA | link | trackb | 17 comments » | Sep 13, 2006 11:18:48

Mac mail migration

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I’ve been thinking more about how I am going to communicate over e-mail once I end up with multiple Macs in my life. As a PC guy, I’m currently using a Blackberry 8700c combined with Nelson Email Organizer on my Thinkpad T60p, with Google’s gmail providing domain mail hosting, archiving, and web access.

Although NEO is the best e-mail client I’ve ever used, it doesn’t support any sort of synchronized mail solution. In fact, NEO doesn’t even use IMAP the way it was intended to be used, so during times when I am away from my networked Thinkpad, I am effectively communicating by using another copy of my incoming mail. (read more »)

Oakland, CA | link | trackb | 6 comments » | Sep 8, 2006 10:11:45

Frantic multitasking

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Unread Emails

I’m sorry if I’ve been unresponsive. I’ve been working both a photo job, publishing job (Wetpixel) and a software contracting job while trying to catch up with general life stuff after being out of the country for a couple of weeks. I have literally hundreds of emails that are sitting unread in my inbox, and I am sort of at a loss as to how to deal with them. Luckily, I have more than three more weeks to spend in the Bay Area, and will hopefully be caught up with life by the time I start my travels in the fall.

To prevent any more boredom here on the journal, I’ll try to post photos of what little socializing I’ve been doing lately. :)

Oakland, CA | link | trackb | 4 comments » | Sep 7, 2006 21:24:59

Steve Irwin’s death by stingray

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Stingray

Nearly everyone I’ve spoken to in the last two days has brought up Steve Irwin‘s recent death before making a comment about how I should stay away from stingrays. I wouldn’t be surprised if his death spawned widespread fear of rays, which is totally ridiculous.

Rays are not dangerous. There are only 17 deaths by stingray on record, and more people have been killed by just about everything else out there. I’m around rays all the time, and it’s really hard to get one to attack you; you pretty much have to step on it, grab it, or make it feel really threatened (I never have). I don’t know if Irwin harrassed the animal before it stung him, but I’m sure the details surrounding the incident will emerge as the footage is examined.

Not everyone agreed with Irwin’s hands-on approach to wildlife interaction, but he was a great ambassador from the natural world. His shows have stirred up interest in animal life in a great many people, and he will definitely be missed.

Willy Volk over at Divester has written up a good article and summary about Steve Irwin’s death. There is also an active discussion going on at Wetpixel. Wikipedia is also collecting a comprehensive collection of links and other information about his death.

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 4 comments » | Sep 5, 2006 14:21:09

Must-have Mac software

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In typical fashion, I’ve layered yet more complexity onto my life by ordering a Mac Pro through my friend, Victor, at Apple (thank you, Victor!). As most of my friends know, I have been on the verge of getting a Mac for a few years now. For quite a few reasons, I was just never quite able to pull the trigger until now. (read more »)

Oakland, CA | link | trackb | 15 comments » | Sep 3, 2006 23:28:31

Demon cat!

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Check out this awesome video of a seriously pissed-off cat. (read more »)

Oakland, CA | link | trackb | 2 comments » | Sep 2, 2006 09:59:01
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