Australian Adventures with Rachel

As many of you know, I flew back to Australia at the end of June in 2009. My return flight was only valid for a year, so it was my plan to spend some quality time with my family before uprooting my Australian life and moving to the USA.

Unbeknownst to me, Rachel flew down to Australia not much more than a month after I returned. Well, I had a hinkering something was going on because her best friend tweeted (proof of tweet no longer available) confusion when Rachel said/tweeted that they were going camping together. Nevertheless, Rachel surprised me at Pancakes on the Rocks (one of my favourite places to eat) after my mom and sister picked her up from the airport.

Since it was Rachel’s first time to Sydney (and Australia) I aimed to show her all the glorious places (some touristy, and some hidden gems) my home city has to offer. First, I took her on a walk down a bush trail called the Cascades Track. At the bottom a couple of rivers/streams converge in to one. It’s great for photography, and on a sunny day you’d be lucky to see more than ten people during the whole walk.

Shrubbery HDR by Rachel Mayo on FlickrCreek HDR by Rachel Mayo on Flickr

The Royal Botanic Gardens is situated right next to the Sydney Opera House (and the hustle and bustle of the city) and yet the gardens are very tranquil — another great place for photography. At sunset you’ll see thousands of bats flying around and hanging in the tall trees here.

Bats by Rachel Mayo on FlickrFurther Entrance by Rachel Mayo on Flickr

Watching the sunset while standing on the edge of a cliff is quite romantic. Please excuse the powerlines, hun. 😛

An Australian visit isn’t complete unless you do some acting on Home & Away. In winter. In a bikini. On the beach. At 6am. Trust me, these memories are great! (And you make some descent mulah to spend at POTR; full circle.)

That’s all the content I have online from Rachel’s adventure to Sydney. If I find some other sweet pieces of media, then I’ll update this post. 🙂

Today (15th) was Awesome!

Today, September 15th, 2010, was so awesome! So, so awesome! I would like to tell you why.

In the extremely early hours of the day (i.e., just past midnight) I had some awesome discussions with Leah over IM. We don’t always get to talk as much as we would like, but when we do it’s great. These days it appears to be tough to find good, loyal, understanding, and loving friends. Leah is definitely one of mine!

I woke up early. For some people out there 0830 hours might not be early, but I went to sleep about six hours before that, so I would consider that an optimal period of sleep. Note: I hate oversleeping. It makes me feel crappy and generally ruins my day.

As soon as I woke up I hugged and kissed Rachel. She’s a good hugger and it makes me happy to wake up to her beauty in the morning.

Crushing a whole bunch of work always makes me feel fantastic! Getting up early aids this because I have more waking ours to crush more work. Even though I don’t work in the same physical location as my co-workers, I must say they can be darn hilarious over our various forms of contact (IM/e-mail/ I love my job!

I came across the song “Electric Twist” by A Fine Frenzy (video embedded below). I’m not sure why I hadn’t heard this before, but it’s just my style (I rarely like music; let alone popular music). Plus… PLUS, the singer is a red head and the video was creatively made; both of things had me swooning as I listened to the song on repeat.

I managed to get outside in the sun to make some vitamin D in my body. Sometimes I don’t venture outside for a few days, but recently I’ve been making a conscious effort to get fresh air and sun daily. Okay, at least bi-daily.

Part of my job description is to watch videos. I know, I know, it’s pretty darn tough; clicking play and everything. Anywho, one of my co-workers, Billy, created an awesome video describing all of Viddler’s major features within a two-minute eye-catching video. It made me darn giddy!

Update (29th Sept., 2010): Billy’s video is now live at Viddler’s Learn More page.

I also happened to come across Chase Jarvis’ short film — Benevolent Mischief — created with the new Nikon D7000. The behind the scenes video is what interested me most. Another giddy watch of the day!

I have also been trying to take a siesta (20-minute nap) in the afternoon because I’m trying to follow Dustin Curtis’ brain hack idea on sleep. It’s sometimes quite difficult to fit a nap in when there’s so much awesomeness going on in the world, but today I managed to do it. While I was drifting into REM I was thinking about how awesome my day was going and how I would write this blog post. I pondered if it could get even more awesome. After my siesta I felt even more full of energy.

One of the things I pondered about during my siesta was cake. We didn’t have any cake mixes in the apartment and — unless Rachel was going to randomly come home with a cake — I wasn’t expecting to fulfill that daydream. Alas, when Rachel came home from work we all decided that it was time to go grocery shopping. Long-story-short, we got cake mix and I made a blueberry white cake for us to consume after dinner. I put mine with cookies and cream ice cream and it was awesome!

Cookies & Cream ice cream and Blueberry White CakeMacro: Bb WC WC

Today was awesome!

I love you, and good night!

Geotagging Cameras

While cleaning out my ginormous pile of tabs in Firefox today I stumbled on this Gizmodo article about the new Leica V-LUX 20. It has a GPS chip inside and geotags where photos are taken.

My dream!

Derek's Flickr Map (Sydney)

I’ve been manually geotagging my photos on Flickr for quite a long time. (Not to mention titling, describing, and tagging my local images; it’s quite a process.) It’s something that the iPhone does to photos taken (if you have the setting turned on). Many other phone cameras and DSLR cameras also geotag photos and video.

Unless you’ve been living in a bunker (I.e., with no GPS signal), you’ll know that geolocation services have exploded over the past couple of years. Kaboom!

Services like Gowalla, Whrrl, and Foursquare have made it easier to connect with friends in real life. Or, ahem, stalk them. 😉 And all of the aforementioned services have partnerships with various businesses (such as Ben & Jerry’s, NJ Nets, and Murphy USA) to offer discounts/coupons on products to entice people to “check-in” to their business.

Back to cameras.

I bought my Panasonic Lumix TZ5 in September 2008. It’s a very good point-and-shoot camera. The wide-angle 10x zoom lens covers so much range that I don’t need any other camera. It is a bit on the bulky side, but that’s the price I pay for performance. Oh, and it records HD 720p video — which is very important to me.

Leica V-LUX 20The Leica V-LUX 20 is almost physically identical to my Panasonic camera, but it packs a higher zoom range, GPS, and hasn’t fallen into the trend of encoding the video in AVCHD; win!

Sony has had GPS in their flagship point-and-shoot cameras and camcorders for a while now. They have similar specs to the Leica and it’s hard to choose between these two brands as they both make very sharp glass.

When these cameras are used with applications like iPhoto (geotagged photos are automatically placed on a map) and Flickr, then combined with services like Gowalla and Whrrl, well, you’ll have a truly streamlined REAL life.

Oh, and the fact that the iPhone 4 geotags videos is huge. I guarantee your mind is going to be blown up (Exploded. Everywhere.) when you see the integration of video into real life locations. You’ll probably want to keep an eye on sites like Viddler.

Footnote: Stalking is bad. Don’t do it. So is lying. I guarantee it’s going to be near impossible to lie (about anything) in a few years due to technologies like GPS. You better get your honesty cap on!

Queens In Sydney

Queen Elizabeth 2 docking at Garden Island.This morning Allie and woke up really early, and went out to watch Queen Elizabeth II sail in to Sydney Harbour.

At 6am she strolled through the heads sounding her horn. We watched from Middle Head; a perfect view.

Once she’d past Middle Head, we got back in the car and went down the road to Bradleys Head. (I’d never been there before; the view of Sydney Harbour is the most amazing I’ve ever seen!) As we arrived the QE2 was just passing by. Perfect.

We shot some beautiful photographs, and I filmed the video below on Will’s Sony HDV video camera.

The Queen Elizabeth II docked at Garden Island, while the Queen VictoriaCunard‘s latest cruise ship – docked at Circular Quay the day before.