Archive for April, 2008

Migrating to Flickr

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

I've used Gallery2 for a few years to share my photos online. However uploading files is tedious, it takes time to keep it running smoothly and I've been having some issues with it lately*. I figured that 25 bucks a year isn't bad, so I decided to switch to flickr. The only downside I saw was reuploading about 7 years worth of photos. Luckily I stumbled across gallery2flickr which runs as a Gallery module and is ridiculously awesome, uploading your photos to flickr at what seems like 1MBps. It probably saved me about 15 hours of mindless work (and now I can go pull a Sherlock). It can also suck photos in from flickr so if Microsoft ends up consuming Yahoo and making flickr suck then there's always an emergency exit.

* More than you wanted to know: URL rewrite would randomly disable itself and break pretty links, possible related to using wp-cache, and generally has been having issues with WordPress 2.5. My only other complaints with Gallery have been the lack of good export plugins for photo apps and slow speeds on shared hosting, still highly recommended.

An Addiction

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

I am finally free from both lotion and chapstick.

The chapstick story starts a long while ago. Ever since middle school or so I can remember using chapstick every day. I would always carry a tube around with me and frequently reapplied it. This continued on through high school and college until the point where forgetting my chapstick was a horrible occasion. If I realized I wouldn't have chapstick for more than an hour or two I would have to borrow or buy a new one. (Thankfully I was usually with Joey who was a user too).

Finally, while working at Google, I was fed up. I decided that it was time to get rid of my addiction and of course starting searching the internet for advice. I ran into a bunch of articles about whether or not lib balm is actually addictive (it definitely is) but finally made it to one that described the process of withdrawal... Without that article I am sure I would have given up because it was hard. Because chapstick prevents your lips from exfoliating properly when you stop using it you have a lot of dead skin to get rid of. This results in a really gross set of lips for a while that are constantly shedding. Thankfully, vaseline was there to help. Vaseline is sorta like a midway drug. It is worse than not using anything, but a lot better than chapstick. Vaseline was able to slow down the exfoliation to the point where I didn't feel disgusted about going to work, and after a couple of months I was able to stop using it too and I am now lip product free.

That all happened a couple of years back. More recently, I also ran into lotion issues. About 2 weeks or so into our Switzerland trip I was completely out of the lotion I use back in CA and the weather was ridiculously cold and dry. I made several trips to the grocery store to buy Swiss lotion and unfortunately none of it was strong enough. My face started to look cracked and was hurting. It then dawned on me that this was exactly like what happened with my chapstick. I was addicted to lotion (and really strong lotion at that). I decided to take a long weekend, forgo the lotion altogether and see what happened. It was fortunate that I had learned what it would be like from the chapstick withdrawal because it turned out exactly the same... and this time I couldn't use vaseline. Thankfully, after much scrubbing and hiding from work I was finally presentable enough to talk to people in person. 1 month later and my face is still slowly getting better at coping without lotion. However, at this point, I can definitely declare myself free from the addiction.

So, if you have to use lotion and chapstick every day now you know that you have the ability to free yourself. To me, it was worth it, but of course everybody has their own addiction preferences.

Lakes and Valleys

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

Here are a few recent panoramas from Zurich and Geneva. Two are from Uetliberg, a mountain that overlooks Zurich and provides a 360 degree view of the center of Switzerland. One panorama is of Zurich and Zurichsee, the lake. We're just a little bit north (left) of where the lake turns into the Limmat river. In the direction of the lake you can barely see Jungfrau, a huge mountain about 100km away. Interestingly, the lake water is supposedly clean enough to swim in and even drink untreated. The other less pretty one shows Lucern, a smaller city just southwest of Zurich. The third panorama is Lake Geneva taken from near the botanical gardens just north of the city center.

They were made with Hugin, which is free and open-source, and there's a decent tutorial here. I usually take them by hand rather than lug a tripod around, and if the subject is far enough away then any misalignment won't be noticeable (the mismatch on these was about a quarter pixel on average). The most important thing is to find a good shutter speed and aperture setting first, and then set it manually so that all of the pictures have the same lighting for later. On MacOSX it's key to install the mono framework and autopano-sift, which makes the process take just a minute or two versus a couple of hours for large panoramas. Check out the full sized versions for more detail or in case you need something to print on a billboard. There are a few panoramas from Costa Rica online too, in case you're interested.