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Archive for October, 2009

Why I am switching to Lightroom from Aperture 2

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Lightroom vs Aperture: I’ve been using Apple’s Aperture for over three years and use it to manage nearly 180,000 images. Today, I am switching to Lightroom. (read more »)

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 24 comments » | Oct 31, 2009 03:56:37

Whale Whores, a mockery of the highest honor

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South Park spoofs Sea Shepherd and Whale Wars

I just watched South Park’s Whale Whores, a spoof on Whale Wars, and it was hilarious1. It is the ultimate proof that you’ve made it when South Park does a spoof on you! If you haven’t seen it yet, you can watch the episode on South Park’s website.


  1. I was head photographer on last year’s anti-whaling campaign 

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 5 comments » | Oct 29, 2009 00:43:17

SanDisk VISA rebate card rips you off

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SanDisk sent me $20 and $60 rebate VISA cards for buying SanDisk compact flash cards. I hate rebates in general, but I hate VISA prepaid card rebates even more.

I’m told that banks are required to cash these cards in, but Bank of America had no idea what to do with them. So I tried using a $20 card at a restaurant (i.e. “put $20 on the card, and we’ll pay the rest in cash”), and the transaction failed. It is very hard to use rebate VISA cards.

A friend suggested that I use the cards to purchase gift cards, which is a great idea. I bought a $20 card from Amazon with no problem, but a $60 order failed. I logged in, and it turns out that the account only has $59 on it, even though it plainly says “60 DOLLARS” right on the front of the card.

How is this not ripping me off? It isn’t worth $1 to call a customer service number. Instead, I bought a $59 gift card from Amazon and am posting about the issue here on my website for SanDisk customers to find. I’m sure it will cost one of the companies involved (SanDisk, VISA) more than $1.

UPDATE:

OK, I tried to purchase a $59 gift certificate on Amazon, and it failed. I checked the balance again, and now it says that it is $58. I tried buying again, and now it says $57. My balance is shrinking with each attempt, and I am not even successfully using the card!

UPDATE:

I believe the reason my balance kept going down is that Amazon does a pre-authorization for $1 before charging the entire amount of the gift certificate. But because the VISA rebate card treats pre-authorizations as charges (before refunding the amount “up to 15 days” later), there is no longer enough on the card for the full charge to go through. The solution is to purchase a gift card for $1 less than the value of the rebate card, or to buy a gift card from somewhere that doesn’t pre-authorize.

Note that my $20 gift card didn’t have this problem, so it seems that Amazon only pre-authorizes for gift cards of a certain value or higher.

UPDATE

I just got a Verizon $50 VISA rebate card. Verizon has a menu item called “Access $” on their rebate card management website, and from there, you are able to withdraw funds directly to your bank account. Way to go, Verizon!

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 18 comments » | Oct 28, 2009 18:33:14

Sperm whale with giant squid in mouth

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Sperm whale with giant squid in mouth, echeng091014_0238869_c

Close-up of a sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) in the Ogasawara Islands, Japan, with the carcass of a giant squid in her mouth.

Taken with Canon 5D Mark II SLR, Tokina 17mm prime lens, Seacam underwater housing

Read the full trip report.

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 2 comments » | Oct 28, 2009 17:35:03

Fix “copy address” in Mail, Mac OS X Snow Leopard

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I frequently right-click on senders and recipients in Snow Leopard and select “Copy Address” to copy their email addresses. Mail.app’s default behavior in Snow Leopard is to copy both person’s name and email address instead of just the email address. So you might get “Eric Cheng foo@bar.com” instead of just “foo@bar.com”.

To change the behavior of “Copy Address”, open a Terminal window and enter the following command:

defaults write com.apple.mail AddressesIncludeNameOnPasteboard -bool NO

Restart mail, and the behavior will change.

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 1 comment » | Oct 27, 2009 16:42:03

Modern photo of technological dark age

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This photo, which was taken from a Gizmodo article called The Future of Charging Gadgets?, is soon going to be one of those old, humorous photos that make you think, “Damn — we were in the dark ages back then.” Early versions of new technology often invoke such a response in me. In fact, this photo pretty much already looks the part of a vintage tech shot, and would look perfectly in place next to photos of doctors using leeches, punch-card computers, and brick cell phones with shoulder straps.

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | Oct 27, 2009 13:18:44

Sixgill shark segment on OPB (I’m in it!)

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The sixgill shark segment on Oregon Public Broadcasting’s Oregon Field Guide is now online! The OPB folks filmed this segment during our charter with Team Hydrus [original trip report].

Sharks which normally spend their lives at the bottom of the world’s oceans have been found living in the relatively shallow waters of Puget Sound. Recreational divers and researchers lure sixgill sharks in for up close encounters. It’s believed Puget Sound is a sixgill shark nursery: a safe place to give birth and raise hundreds or perhaps a thousand or more young sharks. There has never been a report of a sixgill attack on a human.

First Broadcast: 2009
Producer: Vince Patton
Videographer/Editor: Michael Bendixen
Video & Stills Courtesy of : Eric Cheng-WetPixel.com and the Seattle Aquarium

Appeared in episode: Boat Building, Sixgill Sharks, Tsunami Update

Unfortunately, Andy Letourneau, a crew member with Team Hydrus, recently passed away in a diving accident. Vince has posted a tribute to Andy on the OBP website.

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 3 comments » | Oct 26, 2009 14:39:31

I almost took the entire weekend off

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first attempt at butternut squash soup

It was so beautiful here in San Francisco this weekend that we spent most of it outside, wandering around. We read on the beach in Pacifica, wandered around Burlingame, Millbrae and San Bruno looking for the best view of planes from SFO, had a delicious brunch (baking in the heat) at Universal Cafe, hiked the Lands End Trail, had Chinese gelato at Marco Polo, and made soup for the first time. (read more »)

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 5 comments » | Oct 26, 2009 02:15:04

Weekly Twitter Digest: 2009-10-26

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| link | trackb | no comments » | Oct 26, 2009 00:01:00

Verizon MiFi

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My Sprint EVDO plan expired, so I switched to Verizon MiFi (since I already have a Verizon account for my Blackberry Tour).


New Verizon MiFi

Speed test, just now (San Francisco):


From the Westfield SF mall food court

Meh.

** UPDATE:** Another try from SOMA, San Francisco, Oct 26, 2009:

Verizon MiFi speed has improved since the other day, and seems to be reasonably fast most of the time (in San Francisco). Subjectively, it appears to be comparable to Sprint EVDO speed.

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 2 comments » | Oct 23, 2009 15:36:52

Goodbye, Tokyo!

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Hello Kitty and Pikachu say goodbye

Special thanks to Hitomi for hosting me while I was in Toyko, to Tony Wu and Emiko Miyazaki for being our lifelines in Ogasawara, to the guys at INON and Sea & Sea Japan for meeting with me, to the wonderful crew at Sea-Tac in Ogasawara, and to Douglas, Emily and Julia for their humor and company.

Tokyo, Japan | link | trackb | 4 comments » | Oct 20, 2009 18:53:56

An evening with Hitomi-san

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The various faces of Hitomi

Had an enjoyable evening roaming around in Ginza tonight! We ate at Yabaton (per Jauder‘s suggestion) and then wandered over to Don Quijote [sic] for some really entertaining shopping. More photos later. :)

Tokyo, Japan | link | trackb | 2 comments » | Oct 20, 2009 07:39:33

Trip Report: sperm whale expedition to Ogasawara, Japan

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Update 1: October 11, 2009

We arrived in the Ogasawara Islands two days ago after enduring a typhoon in Toyko and an arduous 25.5-hour ferry ride. Ogasawara is 1000km due south of Tokyo and sits, isolated, at approximately the same latitude as Okinawa. As the ferry approached land, Tony Wu translated what was being broadcast over the ship-wide speaker system.

“There’s another typhoon coming, and it’s supposed to hit tomorrow.”

Two typhoons in four days?! Given the prospect what high winds and huge swells might do to the tiny island we had just set foot on, an urgency suddenly materialized to get out onto the ocean as soon as possible. The six of us settled in at our modest accommodation for about an hour before heading out on our 42-foot dive vessel (which is very nice). Sea-Tac, the local operator whose vessel we chartered, is very knowledgeable about sperm whales and drove us east to a ridge line in about 1000 meters of water. (read more »)

Tokyo, Japan | link | trackb | 8 comments » | Oct 19, 2009 23:00:52

Ogasawara gallery: Scenery

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A gallery of images from the Ogasawara Islands in Japan, formerly known as the Bonin Islands. Ogasawara was absolutely beautiful, and I can’t wait to go back for another visit.

This gallery supplements my trip report. (read more »)

Tokyo, Japan | link | trackb | 2 comments » | Oct 19, 2009 22:59:04

Ogasawara gallery: Chichijima town and expedition members

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A gallery of images from Chichijima (the island we stayed on in the Ogasawara Islands, Japan) and of Wetpixel sperm whale expedition members, October 8-18, 2009.

This gallery supplements my trip report. (read more »)

Tokyo, Japan | link | trackb | 2 comments » | Oct 19, 2009 22:54:06

Ogasawara: sperm whale / underwater image gallery

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A gallery of sperm whale images and underwater photography from the Wetpixel sperm whale expedition to the Ogasawara Islands, Japan during October 8-18, 2009. Subjects include sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus), Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus), Pantropical spotted dolphin (Stenella attenuata), and carcass bits of some sort of large pelagic octopus and an unidentified giant squid.

This gallery supplements my trip report. (read more »)

Tokyo, Japan | link | trackb | 1 comment » | Oct 19, 2009 22:50:16

Canon releases 1D Mark IV digital SLR

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Canon has announced their new flagship digital SLR, the 1D Mark IV, a 16-megapixel, 10 frames-per-second professional SLR body. From the first look, the body looks to be identical to the older Mark III cameras — good news for underwater photographers. However, we won’t know for sure until someone actually gets their hands on one. Especially exciting is the inclusion of HD video capture in the new camera. The 1D Mark IV will capture both HD and SD video. HD video support includes 1920×1080 capture @ 24p, 25p and 30p, and 1280×720 capture at 50p/60p.

Canon has posted a press release and an article explaining what’s new. Rob Galbraith has also published an article with more information bout the camera.

The 1D Mark IV is priced as $4,999.00 and ships in late December 2009. For underwater photographers, there is sure to be an active discussion in the Wetpixel forums.

Tokyo, Japan | link | trackb | no comments » | Oct 19, 2009 21:53:13

Dessert tonight in Tokyo

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Mochi, red beans, and ice cream. YUMMMMM.

I love the food in Tokyo.

Tokyo, Japan | link | trackb | no comments » | Oct 19, 2009 07:30:16

My Facebook friend policy

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After being away from real internet for the past 11 days, I returned to find the typical couple dozen Facebook friend requests. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Totally random/unknown people: 8
  • Random/unknown diving or photo people: 5
  • Random/unknown Sea Shepherd fans: 4
  • Personal friends: 2
  • Known dive/photo acquaintances: 1
  • People known only virtually: 1

In this case, I accepted 4 of them, but I had to think about accepting the virtual acquaintance. In this case, she passed the test.

My Facebook “friend” list is really a list of acquaintances, and although my bar for connecting is rather low, I still Ignore at least 5 people for every one that I accept. It’s nothing personal.

My bar for Facebook “friendship”:

If you are someone I …

  1. … know in person, we’ve spent time together in real life, and I have a neutral or better feeling.
  2. … have never met, we have had significant dealings virtually over an extended period of time, and I’m sure you are a real person.
  3. … totally don’t recognize, then I must be a big fan of you or your work.

I also have no qualms about de-friending people, although the amount of offense it takes to be removed is directly proportional to how well I know the person and how long I’ve known them. My Facebook page is not a public space, and I choose to make it a place that I enjoy.

My Twitter friend criteria is much more complicated. Twitter is very useful as infrastructure, but I find it to be poorly conceived and potentially intrusive as a community. As a result, I choose to keep the list I follow short, and even close friends may be excluded if our update styles are not compatible.

Finally, I do have a Facebook fan page for my photography, and a joke fan club. :)

Tokyo, Japan | link | trackb | 5 comments » | Oct 19, 2009 01:53:36

A social group of 6 sperm whales / giant squid in mouth

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– VIDEO REMOVED –

I’ve removed the video at the suggestion of a friend of mine, who tells me that it is worth real money. Contact me privately if you are interested in the footage.

Above is a video of six sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) in the Ogasawara Islands, Japan. The lead female sperm whale has the remains of a large squid (possibly, an Architeuthis giant squid) in her mouth. 15 minutes earlier, we had been in the water in the scattered remains of the squid (birds were feeding on it) before seeing this group of sperm whales close by. It looked as if the squid had been torn apart on the surface! (read more »)

Tokyo, Japan | link | trackb | 2 comments » | Oct 19, 2009 01:38:58
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