Thursday, April 30, 2009

100 Days Obama

The new US administration is now 100 days in control. A lot has actually happened - the election visibly changed relevant issues, like the stance against torture, like ecological topics, like relation to Cuba and South America,like open communication to the American people through WWW sites, etc. The White House released a set of about 300 pictures at Flickr to show some more from the POTUS from these 100 days.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Easy Pelican sighting in La Jolla

It was a tight day today, with no time for blogging. So here is something recycled from the recent La Jolla trip: pictures of Brown Pelicans - an easy sight on the La Jolla Coast Boulevard. They fly north and south along the coastline, sometimes just 20 feet away.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Big Picture

Through Dred's Twitter entry I found The Big Picture. This site shows every couple of days selected pictures in very good quality and appropriate size for various contemporary topics - the latest one about refugees in Sri Lanka, which is not an easy-going topic. There is an RSS feed as well, you may want to subscribe :-)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Pontiac gone in 2010

GM, on the brink of Chapter 11, announced that the Pontiac brand will cease to exist in 2010. Too bad, I liked their designs. When coming to the US, I got a used 1997 (?) Pontiac Grand AM because I wanted an American made car. The picture below was actually one of the first shots I took with my then new digital camera in 1999. The car was fine - a little soft on the suspension, but other than that I was a happy customer.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

White Seal Cub in La Jolla

We visited the La Jolla Seal Beach again, and there have been a lot of seal cubs around. One of them had a quite bright, nearly white fur / skin - clearly an attraction for the crowd. The pictures are at Picasa.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Movie: Slumdog Millionaire

We watched Slumdog Millionaire recently, on BluRay. The film got Oscar attention earlier this year, winning a lot of the prizes, including best picture. The film is worth to watch in HD, there are a lot of colors and details - for example the scene zooming away from the slums, or the Taj Mahal view. The movie itself had a nice story and pace, linking the questions in the "Who wants to be a Millionaire" contest to the events in the life of the protagonist Jamal - but there are unexpected violent scenes including torture right in the beginning, shooting and mutilation. At the end I think it is a worthwhile movie, but the violence does prevent a top rating and it is not the happty "feel good" that is advertised below.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Cafe Luna

I visited Cafe Luna again, this time on business. Cafe Luna is a privately owned Italian style restaurant, which has some level of positive albeit dark atmosphere. The food is sometimes spectacular, sometime medium. This time I had Tuna with Noodles - more on the "spectacular" side. Funny enough, there is no fish on the menu - but until now there was always a fish special. I recommend to consider the specials anyway.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Elephant Bar

Another restaurant recommendation: we went to the Elephant Bar (map) recently. The menu improved over time, and choices are quite broad in the meantime. The chain keeps the focus on bar-style offerings (lots of burgers and finger food, somewhat on the heavy side), but there are also other more sophisticated items. The place is specifically good for informal groups and after-work gatherings.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Project Wildlife to the Rescue

Yesterday Christina found a Baby-Hummingbird on our garage driveway. The little one must have fallen down from the nest in the palm tree or so. Anyway, what to do with it? Someone gave a hint leading to to the San Diego Project Wildlife. The good people take abandoned wild animals, also Hummingbirds (they have even specific instructions). It was after hours, but a voice message was returned within the hour, and we could drop the bird at a volunteers home quite close-by. It turns out that they already had a couple of chicks (it is the season), and they predicted good chances of survival. The picture below is from November 2007 when we still had Bird of Paradise bush, which is a Hummingbird favorite.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Wireless Range Extender

I got the change to visit Fry's yesterday and came home with a WRE54G, which is a Wireless Range Extender. I had always problems with my laptop connecting to my wireless access point located in the other corner of the house. The root cause is that the laptop is crap - others can easily connect. The solution is a Wireless Range Extender, which picks up a given 802.11B/G signal and repeats it. No cable needed, it is all over the air, just plug into power. It works nicely - I have "excellent" signal strength now. The downsides: the device does not do "N" and it took me two hours to configure because I forgot that I have MAC filtering enabled in my router.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Earth Day in San Diego

Here is a post about a non-event: I wanted to visit the Earth Day fair in Balboa today. I got out too late: by 11AM there was a 2 mile jam on the CA163. I made it up to the park, but the parking was already closed. There was a shuttle offering from another place, but I gave up right there :-( I went to Fry's instead.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Coronado Flower Show

We went to the Coronado Flower Show today. The community tries to improve the overall cuteness of the island by staging a front-garden beauty competition. There is a first price, a runner-up and ten other honorable mentionings. And there is the Flower Show itself, with various exhibits including miniature flower arrangements and a Rose competition. Nice to look at, but exhausting... I made a map that shows locations of the top 12 front yards. We did visit the north-east cluster only today.

View Coronado Flower Show 2009 in a larger map

Friday, April 17, 2009

Is Twitter the sign of the 21st Century?

Yesterday late night the race towards 1 million followers on Twitter was decided, and the winner is Ashton Kutcher, beating CNN Breaking News, which is well above that mark in the meantime as well. But on the way to the next milestone (2 Million? 10?) both contenders will face Oprah, who apparently just joined and got 100K followers within the first 15 minutes or so. According to PCWorld, the next Oprah TV show will feature microblogging, giving certainly a boost to that growth. Oprah wrote in her first entry "FEELING REALLY 21st CENTURY." Really, that's it?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Pictures in GMail

Somehow the blog you are looking at now seems biased towards Google... there is a lot of Google this and Google that. Here is another one: GMail now supports in-line images. You have to go through the Google Labs tab in GMail Settings to activate the feature. Then a new button shows in the Rich Text Edit Bar (see the gray arrow below). There are some image manipulation options as shown in the picture below - essentially the same as offered by Google Sites for editing web pages. The image is apparently not send but stored at mail.google.com. Works well for me - but what's the limit, and can one remove obsolete pictures? Here is the URL for the picture in the message below to check it out.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

50 Posts!

This is the 50th posting... not too bad. Since a couple of weeks I am posting once a day more or less interesting stuff. Interest is probably limited to friends and family (the advertisement at the bottom of this page did not create wealth yet). Anyway, lets move on.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Exploring Photobucket

I derived from Picasa and tried Photobucket. The main reason for the test is the limitation of Picasa with direct links: the pictures are quite limited in size. Photobucket offers larger directly linkable images. But they have a lot of advertisement and the user interface is somewhat confusing. Their picture uploader is a Java app - so it runs from within the browser which actually works quite well. I'll embed a Photobucket slideshow below.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Wildflowers, eventually

This years Easter-Walk led to a tour around Lake Poway (map). Different from my earlier attempt to see Wildflowers, it turns out that there are still a lot Wildflowers around, along the surprisingly nice 90 minutes slow circle walk that lets you forget about the cities close-by. More pictures are in Picasa.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Bo

The Obama's moved on a campaign promise and got a dog for the kids. As widely before speculated, it is a Portuguese Water Dog called Bo - the news was leaked by TMZ, and yes, the Whitehouse just confirmed. Stop the presses. Elsewhere, the breed is described as "They're very energetic. They play, play, play. Then they sleep". My thoughts go out to the garden.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Lazy Saturday Garden Pictures

Lazy post today: three pictures taken on this lazy Saturday late afternoon in the garden. Click to see them big.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Where in the World?

My favorite photo service Picasa uses user images with geotags open to the public to create a game called Where in the World?: guess (or know) the place where the photo was taken, and get a score based on the distance between your guess and the geotag. This is a mash-up application of Maps and Picasa. It is fun, often impossible difficult and sometimes surprising - you should try it.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

200M Facebooks

In my quest to understand social networking I joined Facebook some days ago. Earlier this week they announced that they just passed the 200 million user mark. Sadly, it was not me. Until now I am somewhat underwhelmed by the Facebook service. I found a lot of people I know, but I am uncertain where to go from here with Facebook. I added my Blogger blog to my "wall" for the friends to see. But now, whats next?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Discovering Collages

It is a busy day (actually, a busy week)... so here is only a short post today: I found a long time ago that Picasa has a "photo collage" feature. I did not think that this would be useful at all, but just yesterday I wanted to send a couple of pictures out, and instead of an individual image selection, a single collage seemed suddenly a bright idea. It can carry a little more context and mood than just the images alone as message attachment. And it took less than a minute to put a "spring impression" collage together.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Digg Bar - Something Dangerous?

I found a reference to the Diggbar at TechCrunch (and other locations). It is an intriguing idea: You go to the site you like to see, and then you add "digg.com/" in front of the URL in the address bar. For example, you start with "http://whitehouse.gov", but then you add "digg.com/" so that it looks like "digg.com/http://whitehouse.gov". Press enter and done. What happens is that digg.com knows about the page that you currently see, and it serves possibly some ads on the top of the page, along with useful stuff: a short URL in the address bar, an opportunity to rate or recommend the page, find related content, or with one click create a Twitter entry or an email. All very easy, no need for installation of any browser plug-in or other stuff. But... it somehow feels odd that all content you access can be monitored by Digg. True, Google reads my email. Yahoo knows my RSS feeds. But browsing through Digg? Let's learn more about this.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Google Apps on the Phone

Earlier I explained in some length about the move back to my original login for Google services. This was mainly motivated by the Google Mobile applications. The shortcoming is that these applications do not use secondary Google accounts, even when logging in with these credentials. But the point of the post today is that I am quite happy with the mobile applications. I am (still) a Windows Mobile user on the T-Mobile Dash. The Google Apps integrate nicely and prominently with the user interface, including GMail, Picasa, Blogger, etc. So this brings some new life to the old 2006 phone.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Ladybug Sighting

It is not a good sign when the sighting of a Ladybug triggers a blog post... they should be around in larger numbers. Anyway, today one was seen on a Aphids-infested rose shrub. That's good.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Birds and Gardening

Today we spend some time in the Garden... digging two and a half holes. A bird came by, and I could make a photo. It seems to be a male Hooded Oriole. Any other opinion? The second picture shows a Scabiosa, planted today.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Cherry Blossom

In these days the Cherry Blossom season reaches Tokyo coming from the south... I have been in Tokyo for that event in 2006 (more or less coincidentally), and two pictures are below. There seems to be tradition to send out junior people from a company to reserve space underneath the trees, and at lunch time the co-workers show up and celebrate. One of the pictures below shows that event, in this case on a cemetery in Aoyama. Right now, interesting enough, the Google Maps satellite picture shows also Cherry Blossom (cached here, other pics here)...

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Remembering: Dancing

A posting at Joystiq [Playstation] featured a new LittleBigPlanet YouTube destination, which has right now a nice little cover version of the original 2005 Dancing video from Matt Harding. This is in the meantime a classic piece of Internet history, and it has not lost any appeal. Watch it again embedded below. There are some followup productions from Matt on his site with similar value, but the first one is still most fresh.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

GMail: Going back and forth with Google Sites

Perhaps boring for most people: Here is some lengthy advice for Google Sites users... at least this is how I see it. Use your main Google Account to access email from a Google Sites custom domain; don't use the Google Sites email tool. To use the new address space that comes with Google Sites you should forward Google Sites domain email to your main Google account and register the Google Sites mail addresses there (Settings -> Accounts) so that you can use it publicly... Details: Not too long ago I started to use my own domain, acquired through Google Sites. Eventually I moved this Blog to the new domain. Google Sites comes with GMail, so I also switched my default mail account to the new domain, and used POP to transfer all my messages from my original GMail account to the new GMail account. That worked out nicely, importing the 6000+ messages that accumulated over the years. But, as Google users with accounts know, all the Google services use a Google email address for login. After a while I found that it seems impossible to use my new address as the main login. For example, when logging in with the new address, it would automatically switch to the original main address when accessing Picasa. Somehow, I can't make Picasa use my new address. This situation became very bad with the Google Mobile applications, which would not show my new mailbox at all - even when logging in with the new credentials. So I gave up and reverted to use my original Google login for accessing mail to the new address. The GMail client can perfectly handle multiple accounts, so I can keep my public new email address, but I will not login with that one anymore. The only publicly visible consequence so far: Google Chat in GMail will also expose the old email address. Other than that, I have to re-transfer all the 6000+ messages back to the old account using POP (takes a day or two). Now I think I can use my new Google Sites public email address (but not the tool) and have all other Google services available.