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For some reason, the ViewLevel plugin for WordPress has started showing lock icons on all posts after I upgraded to WP 2.6.5 from 2.6.1, so I’ve removed the icon altogether from post titles. Hope to fix this when I return.

Until then, please be sure you are logged in to read the latest updates (if you have an account, that is). :)

M/V Steve Irwin | link | trackb | no comments » | Nov 29, 2008 22:57:16

Hardware failure (and why I’m glad I’m prepared)

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I’ve seen three disks fail here on the ship in the past two days; it’s terrifying to think about computer failure during such a long time out at sea.

About 15 minutes ago, I had a drive failure scare. My Mac froze suddenly while I was working in Aperture, and I had to force a hard reboot. When it started up again, I got the dreaded flashing question mark folder, and no amount of restarting the machine allowed for a successful boot. Luckily, I travel with DiskWarrior 4 on a USB stick1, and it managed to rebuild the volume successfully. I was so relieved.

What if I hadn’t had a copy of DiskWarrior handy? I might have been seriously screwed.

In my computer bag, I travel with the following things:

  1. DiskWarrior on USB flash drive
  2. Mac OS 10.5 Leopard installer on USB flash drive
  3. Full, bootable backup on external drive (encrypted)
  4. Useful software installers on an external drive
  5. Numerous external drives
  6. Numerous USB flash drives

If you are a frequent traveler and don’t travel with DiskWarrior, an operating system installer disc, and an external drive to which you backup frequently, you are asking for trouble!


  1. I don’t have an optical drive in my notebook anymore, so I transferred my copy of DiskWarrior onto a USB flash drive. 

M/V Steve Irwin | link | trackb | 8 comments » | Nov 29, 2008 22:13:04

Operation Musashi, Day 1, Brisbane

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What an overwhelming day. Don, Adam and I arrived in Brisbane and were greeted by Kim McCoy and the Animal Planet team, who filmed us for a couple of hours as we drove to the private marina where the M/V Steve Irwin is docked and stepped aboard for the first time. Can you say, awkward? The majority of the crew has already been aboard the Steve Irwin for some time, and we showed up with a camera team following our every move, like we were important or something. Everyone seems to be really busy getting the boat ready for departure, and the camaraderie and feeling of companionship already seem to be very strong.

There is so much more to write about, but I am exhausted. After dinner, Kim and I took a walk up the street to a local beach park where we were eaten by about a thousand mosquitoes while we frantically tried to unlock the gates leading back to the boat. Don, Adam and I spent a couple of hours shooting the Steve Irwin against industry (and Cirque du Soleil)-lit clouds. It’s definitely time for bed.

PLEASE do not share these photos. They are confidential, and if you have access to this post, I trust you. (read more »)

Brisbane, Australia | link | trackb | 5 comments » | Nov 27, 2008 07:23:33

Antarctica mind map packing list

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Antarctica mind map packing list, originally uploaded by echeng.

I spent hours yesterday packing up for my upcoming trip to Antarctica, and have managed to cram just about everything into two 50lb bags (the new international standard for us North Americans), plus a heavy camera backpack (the Gura Gear Kiboko bag) and a ThinkTank Urban Disguise 60 as carry-ons. I used a mind-map to plan for the trip, and then converted it to an OPML outline document, which I printed out for reference during packing.

Because I will be going directly to Indonesia after Antarctica, creating a packing list proved to be a little tricky. Instead of trying to lug a third 50lb bag with me to the Southern Ocean before ending up in Indo, I sent my underwater camera to Hawaii (with a friend) to be delivered to another friend, who will meet me in Manado with the bag in a few months.

I’m also testing out journal posting via Flickr e-mail, which will allow me to post a single image plus commentary when I am on the road. I’m sending this from my satellite phone email system (although I’m connected through traditional internet at the moment). The real (and ridiculously slow) test will have to happen tomorrow…

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | Nov 23, 2008 17:17:11

Canon G10 vs Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3

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A year ago, I wrote an entry wherein I recommended the Fuji FinePix F30 or F31d as my compact digital camera of choice. I later updated that entry to include a plug for the FinePix J10 — a $115 point & shoot camera.

So why, then, did I recently acquire a Canon G10? (read more »)

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 24 comments » | Nov 13, 2008 17:46:43

First episode of Whale Wars available for free on iTunes

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“Needle in a Haystack,” the first episode of season 1 of Whale Wars, is available as a free download on iTunes.

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 3 comments » | Nov 13, 2008 17:13:29

Cat vs box. Hilarious.

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(via Jauder)

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 1 comment » | Nov 11, 2008 22:45:32

How I’m using SpinVox

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I’m a huge proponent of SpinVox, a service that converts voicemails to text. Messages are delivered via SMS and/or e-mail.

Currently, I’ve got two mobile numbers and one landline. All three forward busy and unanswered calls to my voicemail number at SpinVox, which means that I can “listen” to my voicemails wherever I am, without making a call. When I’m in areas without GPRS, I set SpinVox to use SMS to deliver messages, but normally, I receive them only as email. My Blackberry’s incoming mail filter marks messages from SpinVox as being “Level 1″ in priority, which highlights those messages in red and tells the phone to notify me by vibrating and beeping.

When I’m in the country, I still call in to listen to more interesting voicemails. After all, it is still nice to hear someone’s voice on the other end. SpinVox makes message retrieval easy by providing a short code for each message — you just call up, type in the code, and your message is read back to you. It also functions in the traditional manner, with queued messages played back in reverse chronological order.

SpinVox also offers a whole bunch of services similar to those that Jott provides, but I haven’t tried any of them out. It’s priced a bit high, but so is making voicemail calls from out of the country.

I think that if I only traveled to areas with good data infrastructure, I’d stick with GrandCentral, which features voicemail played through a web interface. But for me, text is better than audio.

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 5 comments » | Nov 10, 2008 17:54:58

Epiphany — vibrating watches!

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For years now, I’ve had a tough decision to make each night I sleep on boats: do I put earplugs in and risk not waking up in the morning, or do I forgo them and risk a sleepless night? I’m totally fine sleeping to the sound of a generator running, but the occasional lapping of a wave against the hull combined with the rumbling symphony of middle-aged men snoring? That is just a nightmare.

Tonight, I discovered that vibrating watches exist. Surprisingly, I couldn’t find any exhaustive vibrating watch guides out there, but I did some research and settled on Casio Pathfinder hunting and fishing watches. They are cheap (around $30 street), and people seem to really like them. They don’t look bad, either — pretty much the sort of watch I’d wear out on expedition. Might as well give one a try…

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 3 comments » | Nov 10, 2008 04:08:01

Livia plays Britten, the private photos

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My place — ready for hosting

I’ve put the entire photo collection online. This entry is private — please don’t give the gallery link to strangers. :)

Adam Tow took a bunch of photos with his own camera. I’ll add them to this collection once I get them from him!

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | Nov 10, 2008 02:34:24

Livia plays Britten; house concerts revived

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Livia Sohn warms up

Livia Sohn came over today to run through Britten Violin Concerto (with Dmitry Cogan on the piano), and we invited a few people to listen. (read more »)

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 2 comments » | Nov 10, 2008 02:30:28

Gura Gear Kiboko camera bag review

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Gura Gear, logo detail

Andy Biggs shipped me a Gura Gear Kiboko bag to take with me to Antarctica and Indonesia, and it arrived today! When I took it out, my first thought was — this is a solid bag. In fact, I even unzipped the two pockets to look for shipping padding, but it was just the structure of the bag that I was feeling. (read more »)

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 7 comments » | Nov 7, 2008 17:05:15

Seacam housing, M.I.A. for 45 days

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Yap stamp detail

I have been stressed out for the past few weeks because I shipped my Seacam underwater housing (with ports, arms, strobes, chargers, and more) back from Yap, Micronesia rather than haul it home via Dave and Kim’s wedding in New York . After a month and a half, it had still not arrived. I insured the package, but my receipt from the Yap post office simply said, “Stamps: $140,” and this did not inspire confidence in the package’s traceability. (read more »)

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 5 comments » | Nov 7, 2008 16:44:49

Whale Wars airs tonight in the USA

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(From Sea Shepherd website) At long last, the Sea Shepherd 2007/2008 campaign to defend whales at the bottom of the world will hit the air waves tonight on Animal Planet across all the fifty U.S. States at 9:00P.M. It will air in Canada on Sunday, November 9th at 8:00 P.M. (read more »)

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 2 comments » | Nov 7, 2008 13:24:31

San Francisco election photos

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alau081104_0013088w

Adam Lau has a small set of election evening photos from San Francisco. Check them out, and pay homage to the 16-35 lens that was sacrificed at the end of the evening (poor guy).

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | Nov 5, 2008 14:09:00

Why ask?

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I was hanging out with a friend the other day (one I don’t know very well), and she asked, “so what were you doing when you were living in New York?”

I answered, succinctly, “I was writing options trading software.”

She replied, “Oh. That doesn’t interest me at all.”

Silence.

You can imagine that I wasn’t as excited for additional dialog.

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | Nov 5, 2008 12:03:54

Obama win!

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Since I don’t have TV, I streamed election coverage on MSNBC after having dinner in the Castro during the actual announcement of Obama’s win — the streets went wild!. Animal Planet is doing a bit advertising push for Whale Wars; MSNBC played the trailer 4-5 times during the course of my 30 minutes of watching speeches.

I’ve been getting emails from acquaintances who live abroad, and there seems to be near universal joy outside of the U.S.; likewise, all of my close friends are ecstatic at the prospect of change. The only downer is that more than 50% of voting Californians seem to be bigots. It will be really disappointing if Prop. 8 passes. I thought we lived in a little oasis here, but it appears that the oasis only encompasses the coast.

When we were walking to the car after dinner, a homeless man shuffled by with a shopping cart, muttering, “I don’t care about any of this shit. I don’t care.” Yeah, I suppose the ramifications of an Obama victory might not matter so much compared to finding food and a place to sleep.

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 6 comments » | Nov 5, 2008 03:26:48

De-friending for political reasons

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This was one of those random Facebook friend requests that I accepted because I went to high school with her (I think, anyway). Friendship was short-lived.

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 4 comments » | Nov 4, 2008 01:32:41

Gura Gear – ultimate wildlife photography camera bag

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My good friend, Andy Biggs, has launched Gura Gear, a new line of camera bags designed for and by wildlife and outdoor photographers.

The Kiboko bag is the first design from the Gura Gear line. Weighing in at only 4 pounds, the Kiboko is the lightest bag in its class. Designed with the needs of the photographer in mind, the bag allows all photo gear to be safely stored and comfortably carried but also quickly accessed. The Kiboko bag is deep enough to accommodate a pro level SLR camera body, as well as medium format cameras. The bag will also hold up to a 500mm and 600mm lens simultaneously. The Kiboko bag is made from high-tech Dimension Polyant VX-21, a unique and durable water-shedding material made from the same process that is used on some of the fastest lightweight sailboats in the world. The outer materials are abrasion and tear resistant and the interior is well padded, ensuring that the bag and your equipment will hold up regardless of the terrain you’re photographing.

I’ve been watching the Kiboko evolve since Andy’s first concept of the bag, and I really like where it ended up. I’ll be taking one on my next trip, which will take me to Australia, Antarctica, and Indonesia. It’s going to be the ultimate field test!

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 1 comment » | Nov 3, 2008 22:51:40

Woopra stats are really cool

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Woopra is really cool. If you want to see what your users are doing in real-time, you should sign up now.

According to Woopra, Wetpixel typically has between 6-30 users on it at once. The free beta stops after 10,000 hits a day, but I’m still enjoying watching people on the site. :)

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | Nov 1, 2008 21:00:02
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