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Archive for November, 2009
Coral hermit crabs, Ashmore Atoll, Australia, originally uploaded by echeng.
Coral hermit crabs (Paguritta harmsi) in their little coral den. In this photo, the hole the hermit crabs live in is less than 1cm wide. Ashmore Atoll, Australia. echeng091128_0242484
Squat lobster in barrel sponge, Papua New Guinea, originally uploaded by echeng.
A squat lobster (Lauriea siagiani) in a barrel sponge (Xestospongia sp.). Eastern Fields, Papua New Guinea. echeng091127_0241944
Image taken with Canon 50D, Canon EF-S 60mm macro lens, INON X-2 underwater housing, INON underwater micro semi-fisheye relay lens UFL-MR130 EFS60, dual INON S2000 strobes.
Alien tunicate, Eastern Fields, Papua New Guinea, originally uploaded by echeng.
An alien cell: the inside of a tunicate, taken with the INON Underwater Micro Semi-Fisheye Relay Lens UFL-MR130 EFS60. I call this new lens the "insect eye lens." It allows for wide-angle macro shots (WAM) focused right up to the front element of the lens. Eastern Fields, Papua New Guinea. echeng091126_0241533
I slept 12 hours last night and woke up to a calm day overlooking a mangrove forest in Papua New Guinea. I walked outside and took a seat on the elevated patio with a cup of instant coffee and a book (well, a Kindle), and immediately felt a slowing of the heart rate and a deep, relaxed and complete breathing that was surprisingly — and depressingly — novel.
It occurs to me that a good life goal is to put myself in a situation in which I am able to feel like this regularly. The last few months have been such a whirlwind of activity that I forgot what it means to relax.
Sunrise over Nadi, Fiji, originally uploaded by echeng.
An incredibly-saturated sunrise above the clouds, taken shortly before landing at Nadi, Fiji.
Sent from mobile device. Apologies for brevity and/or typos.
Dad, at home, originally uploaded by echeng.
I visited San Diego for a few days last week before leaving for this month-long trip to Papua New Guinea. We went for a walk in Solana Beach, and the light was absolutely gorgeous. One good thing about winter is that the sun is often low in the horizon — good light! The salty mist thrown up by the ocean makes for an incredible portrait backdrop.
Sent from mobile device. Apologies for brevity and/or typos.
I tried to send this tweet using Tweetie, and it failed. So I went to Twitter.com and tried again. It said that the post failed because the URL might have “spammy content.” Just for the hell of it, I clicked “update” a few more times… and the tweet went through! Brute force passes anti-spam test!
I’m finished packing more than 12 hours before I leave for Papua New Guinea! Of course, I probably have 8-10 hours of work to do before I go, but it’s still a record to be packed up so early.
(2) 50 lb checked bag of camera equipment
(1) 40 lb checked bag of dive gear, wetsuit, clothing and toiletries
(1) 35 lb backpack of camera and computer equipment
(1) 20 lb “personal item” of camera gear
Grand total: 200 lb!
I hope I don’t get screwed over by the airlines. I packed 3 checked items because it is so much cheaper these days. My dad upgraded me to first class for the SFO to LAX leg of the trip in order to increase my chances of not getting screwed over for having so much gear; hopefully they’ll check me all the way through so I don’t have to try to get 3 bags to Fiji and then to Port Moresby.
There’s a huge difference checking 3 x 50 lb bags vs checking 2 x 70 lb bags. On United to most international destinations, a 51-70 lb bag is an extra $150 each way. A 71-100 lb bag lands you a $350 fee. A 3rd bag of any weight costs $200, plus overweight charges. So a 3rd 71lb bag would cost $200 + $150 = $350!1
At least United gives you 2 free bags on international travel to Asia. First class / Premier Executive travelers (that’s not me) get 2 free 70 lb bags on travel to Asia. That’s a savings of $300 each way if you check 2 x 51-70 lb bags (2 x $150 overweight charges)!
If I knew I were going to have to check 2 overweight bags, I might simply take a flight to Europe or Asia to visit some friends beforehand if the miles would push me into the next mileage bucket. It would cost about the same amount of money. Ridiculous.
I really feel like celebrating! By the way, if you’re unhappy with your AT&T 3G coverage, you can call in to voice your concern. They’ll most likely credit your account to make you happy (I received $30 back in July).
If a company gives you money, it’s because they know they’ve done something wrong.
There are two Eric Chengs in my life. The other is also a Taiwanese classical musician, but he looks quite different and lives in Los Angeles. Our parents even know each other, although we never met in person until both of us had finished university. I call him “Harvard Eric Cheng.”
I noticed today on my new Droid that there was only one entry for Eric Cheng, and that it was a mashup of my data with Harvard Eric Cheng’s data. The contact record had all of our phone numbers and email addresses, plus Harvard Eric Cheng’s Facebook profile image. Editing the record showed distinct identities — one from Gmail contacts (me) and one from Facebook (him), and I was eventually able to separate the two by changing my Gmail contact record’s name to “Eric H Cheng.”
Still, I can’t have another Eric Cheng on my mobile device because it causes too many problems. Ideally, I would be able to exclude Harvard Eric Cheng from Facebook’s Droid sync or intercept his record and rename him on his way to my phone, but I can’t find a way to do that (yet). So until then, I’ve had to de-friend him on Facebook, which seems wrong. I wrote him a message, apologizing, and hope I can connect with him again once this issue is resolved.
I’ve had multiple phone numbers for a long time, and have finally decided to consolidate all of my numbers into a portable Google Voice number. I had previously been a diehard SpinVox user because they transcribe voicemails1, but GV added transcription services (via computer) back in March, making it a viable service for me.
Everything was (and still is) working fine with SpinVox. My two mobile devices and my landline all forward unanswered and busy incoming calls to the same SpinVox account, which transcribes voicemails and emails (or SMSes) them to me. If I needed more information about a particular message, I call in to listen to the voicemail itself. But Spinvox hasn’t changed in years, and Google Voice continues to add features. There is something appealing about the Google Voice method, which involves having a single proxy number that I can direct where appropriate.
I’m signed up for Google Voice a long time ago (when it was still GrandCentral) but am now going to start giving it out as my main number. I’m also disabling SpinVox from my mobile numbers. With GV, I can direct incoming calls to any phone, and voicemails are transcribed and can be played back by a single click or tap on every computing device I own. International rates are reasonable, and calling is seamlessly integrated into the Motorola Droid calling interface.2 The Blackberry also has a GV application, but it is not seamlessly integrated. Calls and SMSes must be initiated from the GV app itself or from Address Book (it doesn’t work from the phone app).
Now I just need to figure out a way to forward my landline voicemail over to GV. At the moment, it does not seem to be supported, so I’ll continue to use SpinVox for landline voicemail.
It’s rare that surprise birthday parties actually work
Happy surprise birthday party, Warren! Not many people get to play with Livia and the SLSQ on their birthday — must have been the best gift ever. ;) (read more »)
Adam told me a funny story while we were en route back to San Francisco from Orlando. It went something like this:
At least four people came up to the booth and said, “It’s my goal to take a photo with you!”
I replied, “Are you sure?”
They said, “Yeah!”, and took a photo with me.
I asked, “Do you know who I am?”
They said, “You’re Eric Cheng!”
I said, “No, I’m Adam Lau!”
This sort of thing cracks me up to no end. Two DEMA shows ago, Kenji Ohmura of Fisheye kept being called Eric at the Wetpixel / DPG cocktail night. It was so entertaining that we now refer to each other by the other’s name. “Hello, Eric! Hello, Kenji!”
This year, I stacked the deck by bringing Adam. They had no chance.
Eric Cheng with a Canon 1D Mark IV prototype
I was able to handle a Canon 1D Mark IV body while I was at DEMA (but wasn’t allowed to take files from it). We took some photos at ISO 25,600 (using the new image-stabilized 100mm macro lens), and it was crazy clean! (read more »)
A couple of days ago, I sent Norb an SMS, forgetting that he doesn’t like mobile texting. A minute later, I received an SMS — Norb’s first ever, I’m told! I’m honored, and its contents communicated more to me than I could have imagined. FIRRPP!
Ever since switching to the Verizon Blackberry Tour 9630 from the AT&T Blackberry Bold, I’ve been unable to sync contacts from my Mac. And yes, I am fully aware that Google Sync exists (thank you). I use it for calendar sync, but it isn’t right for me for syncing contacts.
Incidentally, the switch to Verizon from AT&T was the best move ever because my phone ACTUALLY WORKS now. I was just waiting for a Blackberry World Phone that didn’t look like a brick. So far, my Verizon phone has worked everywhere except for one place: Ogasawara, Japan (Verizon has a deal with SoftBank and not DoCoMo).
In any case, I finally figured out what the problem was, and how to fix it. (read more »)