Photography tips for SXSW

I guarantee every single person attending South by Southwest 2012 will bring at least one camera with them. (If they don’t, then they’re consciously going technology-free at the event — I’m not sure why anyone would do that though.) Hence, these tips aren’t just for people that consider themselves photographers; everyone will benefit from these.


As with all devices you take to SxSW, you’ll want to bring extra batteries and/or portable battery chargers. If you’re smartphone is your main camera, then I recommend any of these Duracell USB chargers (they can charge any USB device).


US Daylight Savings Time begins on Sunday, March 11th at 2:00 a.m. Austin, Texas, is in the CST (GMT -6) timezone. After Sunday, it will be CDT (GMT -5). – You want to make sure you have an accurate date/time on your camera(s). Many SxSW attendees will be traveling across multiple states and one, two, or more timezones. Most smartphones will automatically adjust their date/time as soon as you have a connection in the new timezone. Many of the latest standalone cameras will have some kind of timezone support. This will not automatically adjust unless the camera has GPS. I recommend changing the time (and date, if necessary) as soon as possible. If that’s now, then go for it. Personally, I change mine when the airline flight attendant says “prepare for landing”.


These days it’s rare that even the most snap-happy people will fill up their camera’s memory card in a single day. That is, unless you’re shooting RAW and/or HD video. Even if you only take 10 photos in one day, I recommend offloading those photos to your computer or external hard drive (if you brought either of those). Additionally, if you don’t have any backup devices (computer, hard drive) with you, then upload those photos to Flickr, Picasa, Smugmug, Picplz, Twitpic, and/or all of the above as soon as possible (at the latest, every evening in your hotel room).

Follow these tips above for a jolly relaxing and fun time at SxSW. If you enjoy photography, then join me and many others for Trey Ratcliff’s Schemer PhotoWalk at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 10th, 2012.

I’ll tweet and add more tips to this post if I discover more during the event.

SXSW. Now with less Parties.

Yes, I’m attending SXSW — as I have every year since 2009. I’m hardly an expert about the conference or the city of Austin, but I reckon I have obtained some decent experience during the past three years; albeit badgeless (I had the opportunity to share a friend’s SXSWi badge last year. I did meet some great people on the expo floor, but otherwise the badge wasn’t advantageous to me.)

I read C.C. Chapman’s post regarding parties at the event, and I felt compelled to share my own thoughts.

Last year, Rachel and I RSVP’d and organised our schedule (mostly the parties/nightlife aspect) with a lot of detail. This year, we’ll be just as organised, but I’m slashing the amount of parties I attend.

Noisy environments (concerts, clubs, crowded rooms) have never been pleasing to me (especially for my ears), and my fondness of schwag has decreased significantly over the past few years. Being badgeless and trying to get in to badge-only parties was a challenge, but it ultimately comes down to who you know. When we weren’t able to enter a specific party (badge-only or not) then Rachel and anyone else with us would get very disappointed.

“I just prefer smaller gatherings where you can actually get to know the people around you.”
—C.C. Chapman

The Bigg Diggnation Shindigg was always the best party because it had something interesting and interactive (makes bloody good sense, right?) during the duration of the party. Sadly, our position at the front of the mosh pit resulted in my iPhone screen shattering on the ground last year. I digress. Diggnation concluded at the end of last year, so I’m not sure if Revision3 will be hosting an event this year. If they do, then I’m not even sure I’ll attend.

The other only other event I have interest in is the Austin on Rails Happy Hour. They always have a decent selection of food (chicken wings, fries, chips, salsa, cookies, etc.). We don’t have much experience with Ruby on Rails nor are members of the Austin on Rails community. That’s not a problem though; as long as you register and know the secret word (2010) or the name of the party (2011), then you’re in.

Another event-that’s-not-a-party-but-will-be-partyrific I will be attending is Trey Ratcliff’s Austin Photowalk on Saturday, March 10th… I don’t care how many badges or invites to 12-star hotel rooftop parties you have on this night. This is a free, badgeless event you won’t want to miss.

So, what will I be doing while everyone else is losing their voices at parties. Well, either working, stalking The Ice Cream Man, and/or exploring more of Austin (it’s a great city!).

Will you be joining me?

Who’s heading to SXSW 2012?

I originally posted this on Google+ and Facebook last week. No traction in those places, so here it is on my bloggy blog. If you’d prefer to comment on either of the aforementioned posts, or @djsteen on Twitter, then go nuts. 🙂

Who’s heading to SXSW 2012?SXSW Interactive 2012 logo

In short, I’m looking for:

  • Accommodation. (Wanna share a room?)
  • Fun activities (not pointless, noisy parties).
  • Events for the Interactive and Film portions.

More details:
I’ve been to SXSW every year since 2009. It’s a great event with great people in a great city. For every one of those years I’ve had a buddy (read: girlfriend) to organise accommodation, plans, etc. Last year, that relationship changed from “girlfriend” to “good friend”. So, we’ll be hanging out while we’re there, but she has her own accommodation.

It seems all the tech “gurus” book their SXSW travel and accommodation as soon as SXSW opens registration (around October the year before). Most others seem to plan around this time (a month in advance; when there’s very little accommodation availability at most places). Last year (2011) was crowded because SXSW Music dates overlapped Interactive more than in previous years.

I guess I’m really just looking for someone to share a room with. Whether we split a hotel, or you live in Austin and wouldn’t mind me making a nice crevasse in your couch. Let me know. I have candy.

I typically go to SXSW for the Interactive (March 9-13) portion, but this year I’d like to see a film or two at the Film portion (March 9-17). They’re $10 at the door, and on par with the likes of Sundance entrants.

In past years, we’ve completed several Gowalla (sadly, Gowalla is now closed) trips in Austin, but I’d still like to see more of the town (away from the conference centre) because it is such a lovely city. I may be riding a Razor scooter again this year. They’re VERY handy (and quick!) for traveling around the different SXSW hubs in the city. One year, we did bikes. Those were handy, but the rental fees are more costly, and they are more complex in tight situations (crowds, buses, getting back to the hotel, etc.).

Lastly, there’s no more Diggnation, so no live show this year. I wonder if Revision3 will still have a big event at Stubb’s anyway. Either way, I’m not particularly keen on the event, so I might just skip it to get ice cream the Ice Cream Man.

Let me know your thoughts and plans. (Even if we’re not friends yet; we should meetup and hangout.)

Oh, and I go badgeless. Like a boss.

Serious Winter Gear required

I’ve been meaning to get some winter gear for around six months — ever since I moved to Buffalo, New York. The fact that it was summer didn’t motivate me much even though I know such clothing would have been on sale back in April.

It’s now getting chilly up here in Buffalo and I’m darn excited about it. My weather app is forecasting snow for Saturday. I do need some warm clothing though. Right now, I only have a couple pairs of pants, many JC t-shirts, five dress shirts, a thin jacket, several hoodies, a thuggie, 3 suits, and 1 orange tuxedo.

Here’s what (I think) I need:

  • Winter/Snow Jacket
  • Winter/Snow Pants
  • Dress pants
  • Adventure pants
  • Jeans (I don’t do skinny)
  • Scarf
  • Beanie
  • Socks
  • Winter/Snow gloves

Here’s the ideas I have so far:

Winter Jackets

Rafter (Woman’s) by Foursquare (yeah, it was a clothing company before a geolocation app)

Foursquare Women's Rafter

Winter Pants

Studio (Men’s) by Foursquare

Foursquare Men's Studio

Dress pants

Pants by H&M

Suit pants (grey) by H&M

Adventure pants

Chinos by H&M

Chinos (beige) by H&MChinos (brown) by H&M


I don’t have any ideas on these yet. I would prefer a regular pair of blue jeans and a pair in a crazy colour (blue, orange, etc.). I went in to H&M the other day and noticed they have jeans for reasonable prices, but I don’t see any good examples on their website. Here’s a photo of a style I like:

Jeans on H&M

Scarf, beanie, and socks

I have a couple of keffiyehs (middle eastern scarves), but I’m also looking for a regular scarf. I have one brown/orange beanie (photo) already, but another would be handy. I’m looking for socks that will keep me warm and last a long time. I’ve seen a scarves, beanies, and socks at H&M that could be suitable, but I’m definitely open to ideas from sites like Etsy, etc.

Winter gloves

I have a pair of Johnny Cupcakes gloves, and I just bought a pair of iTap Gloves, so I’m fine for regular/soft gloves. I haven’t found a pair of fierce winter gloves yet. Here’s an example of the style and colour I’m looking for:

Columbia Men’s Whirlibird™ II Glove


I’m open to any and all recommendations. Please leave them (with links) on this post or the Google+ post referencing this blog. I prefer clothing that’s colourful (no blacks, if possible). The less expensive, the better — though I’d prefer to pay a little more to have something well-made and will last for decades. I’m not willing to spend much more than $150 for a winter jacket, $100 for winter pants, and $40 for winter gloves. Everything else should be much cheaper than that.

This is time-sensitive because I’m traveling to Ithaca, NY,  on Friday (28th Oct.); followed by Viddler HQ (Bethlehem, PA) in the first week of November for the opening of our new office. Hence, I would like to have most of these items before I head down.

Thank you!



Johnny Cupcakes TinyChat

A few nights ago Johnny tweeted that he was on Tinychat again. After being unable to join the first couple of times he and Pasquale had tweeted about it, I decided to pop in. I made a whole bunch of new JC friends and we all ended up brushing our teeth together. Lots of fun!

You should join us next time and become a JC fan!

Google’s Thin-Bordered iPad

Today, I happened to stumble across a post on the Official Google Blog regarding the mobile version of Google Docs. (Read it here.) Basically, you can now edit documents stored in Google Docs from any mobile device — whether it be a Blackberry or a new-fangled iPad.

Speaking of iPad, the photo below on the left is grabbed directly from aforementioned post; the photo on the right is taken from

Yeah. It looks like Google decided to redesign the iPad the way they would like to see it. It looks like the screen size is about 13″ diagonally; huge. Maybe they know something we don’t. Perhaps we’ll find out next year when the next generation iPad is released.

Flushing Tampons down the toilet

I recently encountered something I honestly didn’t expect: a tampon in the toilet.

Several years ago a friend of mine told me a story of how foreign exchange students had been flushing tampons down the toilet and her school. The pipes eventually got clogged, they burst, and the teachers’ lounge was soaked. That story has always stuck in my mind.

Note: The fact that foreign exchange students were to blame isn’t relevant. Perhaps in their country the pipes can handle such things flushed down them. In most countries — especially older ones — this isn’t the case. Also, just as many Australian students could have been held accountable; it’s hard to prove.

Have you ever wondered what those ‘sanitary bins’ are next to the toilet in a public restroom? Those are for used tampons and/or ‘sanitary napkins’. This alleviates the drains and allows them to just accept human excrement and small amounts of toilet paper. These things can break down and are biodegradable.

Sure, most tampons are probably biodegradable these days, but that doesn’t make it okay to put them down the toilet. Toilet paper really shouldn’t be put down the toilet, but at least it’s far less absorbent than a tampon. The entire job of a tampon is to absorb liquids — you’ve seen the TV commercials with the blue liquid, right?

I doubt this will further emphasise the seriousness of this issue, but another story I remember from my high school days is when a science teacher explained to the class of what can be seen at a sewage treatment facility. Deceased dogs, cats, and other animals, batteries, paper, gloves, and many more strange items. Those are the things people put down the drain. The toilet is the largest water hole/pipe in most households, so that’s the drain people use for larger items. That’s pretty inconsiderate of the planet.

Listen. Water is the most precious commodity on Earth. There’s a lot of it, but there’s not always enough to go around. Hence, we have to preserve it and treat it like one of our most prized possessions. Placing tampons and another foreign objects down the toilet shouldn’t happen. We have waste receptacles for those items.

You don’t have to take my opinion about this though. Read others’ experiences with tampons and toilets on Yahoo! Answers and Ask Me Help Desk.