Tag - photography


Teresa and I recently took the kids to Osoyoos, BC, where we met up with 3 other families of relatives and spent a few days at a hotel. It was a much-needed break for all of us.

Check out the Flick photoset.

Unfortunately, Teresa broke her foot when we went horseback riding. The stablehands didn’t put the saddle on tight enough, and when one of the guides made her horse gallop for a moment, it slid off to the side of the horse – with Teresa on it. And, of course, she was holding Aidan, our youngest son.

Her foot was twisted in the stirrup – but we’re fortunate. It could have been worse – she could have been dragged.

There’s more to be said about that, but overall, even with that, it was a very enjoyable mini-vacation.

Safari versus Flock: showdown at the OK corral

Almost exactly a month ago I started using Flock on all my computers. Now it’s time to evaluate: was it worth the switch?

  • User interface
    I came from Safari, so I expected a clean, simple, understatedly elegant application, and I got that in Flock. Without this, I’m not interested in using an app – which I why I never took up Firefox for long. But Flock made me forget Firefox. 

    Still, it’s hard to beat Safari for pure elegance – I still find myself hankerin’ for some brushed metal.

    Slight edge: Safari

  • Speed
    Safari is a fast browser, and one of my primary concerns with Flock has been speed. Loading pages and performing actions in Flock seems almost but not quite as fast. 

    But opening up a new window seems to take a looong time – almost 4 seconds – on my 1Ghz PowerBook G4. Not great.

    Also, Flock tends to run down with use. I’m a power web user, and it’s not unusual for me to have 10 or 15 tabs open. After a day of that – or several days, I reboot my Mac only every month or so – Flock slows way down, and the dreading spinning beachball of death becomes a constant companion.

    The solution is to quit Flock and restart it, and presto, it’s as fast as usual. Perhaps Flock’s memory management is not the best – I’m not sure. It took me a while to figure this one out, but now that I have, this is no major trouble.

    Advantage: Safari

  • Flickr integration
    OK, this is a no-brainer. Flock’s integrated Uploadr has become my preferred application for uploading photos to Flickr, even though I have an iPhoto plugin for that very purpose. 

    Uploadr is just better, seems quicker, and lets me properly tag and categorize (add to sets, in Flickrese) all my photos before they even get to Flickr.

    In a walk: Flock

  • Blogging
    Flock has strong blogging capability, includes a full WYSIWYG editor that can be configured for multiple blogs. Very cool. Also, it will save a local copy of your blog entries, which makes a lot of sense for people who are paranoid about data loss. 

    But I’ve actually decided that I like writing my posts in WordPress‘ admin interface better. It lets me write, then Save and Continue Editing, view what I’ve written in the context of my actual blog look and feel, and repeat the process until I’m ready to publish.

    Still, major kudos to the Flock team for incorporating this functionality. I’m certain that some, and maybe many, will really appreciate this feature.

    Decision: have to give the nod to Flock

  • Compatibility
    One of the things you know you might have some issues with when you’re using a browser like Safari with about 2% usage across the internet (if that) is that there will be sites that you can’t see, or that cause problems 

    (Aside: oh how I detest Windows Media Player for the Mac.)

    So I figured that Flock – being based on the mighty 15-20% market share Firefox – would be superior. Actually – not always.

    Not only does Safari render just about as many sites as Flock, it lets you lie. After enabling the Debug menu in Safari, you can tell websites that your browser is Internet Explorer, even MSIE 7.

    Which comes in very handy when you want to get a free domain name from Microsoft, but need IE on a PC to access the site. No you don’t – just set Safari’s user-agent to MSIE 6 or 7, and away you go. Some things won’t work, but most will … and that free domain name will be nicely wrapped up in your hot lying little hand.

    On the other hand, there are sites that say: only works in MSIE and Firefox (and Flock). Google, of course, has released many tools that are initially MSIE and Firefox only, such as Google Calendar. Usually Safari support comes along, but usually a little later.

    Verdict: hung jury

  • Extensibility
    One of Flock’s weaknesses in comparison to the multifaceted Swiss army knife that is Firefox is extensions: little bits of code to do cool things like see what the pagerank of the current page is, or expose all the tables on the page, or extract and download videos from YouTube so that you can cackle with glee at all the stupid things people do while you are safely offline. 

    But no longer: the unreadably understated Flocker to the rescue. And, if that does not suffice, no worries, Flock’d is there to help.

    Since you can now convert just about every Firefox extension to a Flock extension (note to Flock: it’d be a good idea to do this proactively, and offer the converted extensions on your site), and since Safari has a small (though growing) list of extensions, this one is farily easy to call:

    Advantage: Flock

  • Bookmarking/saving/tagging
    One of the things you want to do on the web is save important or interesting things. Why, I don’t know, because you never go back to them – new important or interesting things come every day. 

    But you still want to.

    Browser bookmarks are passe and have been for years now. Locked in one application on one computer (or on two or three, if you happen to be paying for .Mac), they not accessible, they’re not contextualized (other than one single attribute: category), can’t be mashed up and re-published as a clickstream elsewhere, and they’re simply not cool/social/hip and so on.

    Social bookmarking and tagging are in, bigtime.

    Safari integration (and Firefox and MSIE, for that matter) is limited to a toolbar link. It contains Javascript; it redirects you to your del.icio.us homepage, you wait for that to load, you tag your page and enter anything else you want, hit save and get redirected back to the page you just bookmarked.

    Flock, on the other hand, lets you click a little star just in front of the browser address bar, and, if you set it right in your search/bookmarking preferences, automatically tag the page right on the page, save it to del.icio.us, and stay right where you are the whole time. Easy, fast, clean, integrated, sweet.

    Distinct advantage: Flock

  • Searching
    I do a ton of searching. It’s probably one of the things I do most online, with the possible exception of reading blogs. So a browser has to have excellent search integration. 

    Safari was the first browser to recognize this and to incorporate search right into the browser itself. (I wonder how much money Apple makes from this; Firefox makes a significant sum via a relationship with Google on proceeds from the ads clicked by people searching with Firefox.) Who actually goes to www.google.com to search anymore? The only times I’m there is when I have to do a complex, advanced search.

    Flock also lets you search right from the browser interface, but it defaults to Yahoo! (Yup, revenue-sharing deal.) Well, sorry, Flock – I don’t want to deny you the revenue, but I think Google results are better and the result pages load faster.

    No fear, you can change the default, which I did. But here Flock shines, because you can change the default to a variety of search engines – and key sites, like Amazon.com, and Technorati.

    But a feature that Flock adds for the Yahoo! results is live search – similar to the Ajaxy live search you see on cutting-edge blogs or on Google suggest. And while I don’t use Yahoo! as the default, you can bet I am check that list as it appears, and if something stands out as a potential good choice, I click it. Fast, friendly, not in my face, but occasionally useful.

    Advantage: Flock

  • Rendering pages
    Well, last but not least, the primary function of a web browser is to retrieve and display web pages. And the question of any given browser is: does it properly render the pages that it’s fetching? 

    This one is too tight to call. Safari is probably just a little more standards-compliant, but Flock, being Firefox under the hood, is more often used in testing by web developers.

    Overall, I can say I haven’t had a significant problem with either.

    Upshot: dead heat

Well, those are some of the vectors that came to my mind when comparing browsers and trying to decide whether or not to stick with Flock or go back to Safari.

By my count, Flock wins 7 to 4.

And therefore, Flock remains my default browser.

iPod Video

My new iPod just arrived – the 30 GB video version.

It somehow feels so much better than my 4th generation 20 GB version. It seems much slimmer (probably only a few millimeters), the screen seems much bigger (again, it’s probably not actually very much bigger at all) and overall just much more delicious.


Now I’m figuring out how to get my music on the new iPod while leaving it on the old iPod. Hrmm … multiple playlists, sync these playlists to this iPod and those playlists to the other one … couldn’t this be a bit easier?

Grumble grumble.

[tags] iPod, video, apple, john koetsier [/tags]

Memories of La Jolla

OK, the title is accurate. But that’s not really why I’m making this post.

Actually, what’s going on here is that I’m testing Apple’s iWeb.

Teresa mentioned that she’d like to have something from time to time that would help her create a digital scrapbook, and so I said I’d look for something for her. It needs to be simple, needs to tie into all our digital stuff (which mostly means iPhoto), and needs to be fast.

So I gave iWeb a shot. Here’s the result: some of the pictures we took in La Jolla this spring.

Total time: about 15 minutes, most of which was picture selection.

Drag and drop, baby!

Funky Chinese patois

You can’t make stuff this good up:

“Let the hackle zipper cut in the drailing wheel, then draught at full tilt to upgrade, let the drailing wheel tunning hight speed, at this time set the product to evenness floor to go speed run.”

Also notice, under the name of the toy: “Playing must on the smoothness floor.”

But don’t worry, the toy itself is great. After all, it’s part of a “toys series with a strong sense for playing.”

Ahhh … language. Babelfish has got to be better than whoever mangled this translation.

Steering committee

Psychedelic rudder

Originally uploaded by johnkoetsier.

Today our steering committee had our regular monthly meeting on our president’s boat, the MoGeo (pronounced Mojo).

He took us to an island across the bay, and then, on the way back, for a little tour of Bellingham Bay.

I snapped this pick of a ship’s rudder … somewhat appropriately, seeing as it was, of course, the Steering committee that was along for the ride …

[tags] yacht, bellingham, cruise, rudder, ship [/tags]

Flickr kinda flickring in and out

I recently purchased a pro account on Flickr, and I love it. Except …

Except when I can’t upload.

For some reason, some photos just won’t upload. They’re taken with the same camera, and they’re in the same photo management software (iPhoto) as dozens of others that worked, but these won’t upload.

You can try the iPhoto uploader or you can upload via Flickr’s web uploader: no dice. You can re-save them with Photoshop as fullsize JPEGs or re-save them as smaller images: no dice.

The worst part is the complete and utter lack of feedback: the upload just sits and sits and sits, spinning, switching. Red blue. Blue red. Red blue. Blue red …

Please, please, please at least time it out and tell me what’s wrong with the image – or Flickr.

[ update ]

I used the Flickr Uploadr and finally managed to get my Photoshop-saved JPEGs to upload. Whew!

[tags] flickr, problem, uploading, photos [/tags]

Blurb is out of (private) beta

Blurb is out of private beta … and into public beta.

Blurb is building desktop software that will let ordinary everyday average people (like me) to build and publish books … recipe books, photography books, vacation books, portfolio books, you name it.

I’ve downloaded the software and am building a book. More thoughts later …

(BTW, their site has been updated and still has some hiccups, especially in Safari.)

Two cameras I have my eye on

I have a Sony DSC-W1 and have really enjoyed it: it’s incredibly easy-to-use. So now that I’m thinking about expanding, I’m wondering if I’d like to leave the Sony world.

I’d hate to have to know 2 or 3 camera operating systems and modes of operation – which I’d have to do if I bought from a different company.

I’ve got my eye on the DSC-T30 for myself: ultra-portable, but still fairly good quality. I’ve had my eye on the T series for a long time, and would love this camera for an everyday, always on me camera.

And I’m wondering about the DSC-H5 for Teresa, my wife, and our home and family shots. It’s going to be better indoors with less red eye because of the larger flash that’s more separate from the lense, and the 12X optical zoom is very enticing.

Flickr is crack cocaine

Yup. I went and got a Pro account at Flickr.

Part of it is Rastin Mehr’s fault. He’s a colleaugue and a friend who is a great photographer and recently moved his image management to Flickr. He’s been raving about it to me recently.

And part of it is Flickr’s fault. Giving out the free account and then limiting uploads to 20 MB a month is a well-known marketing strategy: the first hit is always free.

Managing and organizing photos on Flick is fun. And easy. Crazy easy – as in pain-free.

This is the ridiculous part: it’s easier than iPhoto. I use iPhoto more days than not, and it’s great for storing all our images. But it’s simply not built for easy tagging and categorization of photos. Flickr is. How a web app can be easier and quicker and simpler to use than a desktop app is astounding.

(I guess it has something to do with this web 2.0 meme going around.)

The final reason for delving into Flickr is that it has some relevance to a project that I may be taking on for a rival photo-sharing service. I want to know what the “competition” is up to in detail, and the only way to do that is to join. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer, huh?

I liked Flickr as a casual user. As a Pro member, I’m loving it.



Originally uploaded by johnkoetsier.

Teresa and I were out shopping this afternoon … our main floor bathroom is about to get blown up and redone.

High time, too …

We saw this sand-blasted glass sink and faucet – beautiful. Unfortunately, due to irritating facets of reality (namely, pipes, placement of, and bathroom, dimensions of) it just won’t work for us.

We await our next home, which we will build, and which will be perfect in every detail.

. . .
. . .

(Remember how you make God laugh? Tell him your plans.)


While in San Antonio a week ago, one of our local sales consultants took me to the McNay Art Museum.

The McNay has a beautiful collection of works by well-known masters, but one piece that caught my eye in particular was a Renoir. But it was a Renoir with a difference – it was a sculpture.

Renoir started sculpture late in life, when his hands were already almost crippled by rheumatism. He worked with other artists, such as Ambroise Vollard and Richard Guino, to instantiate the visions in his mind.

Here, Washerwoman:


More San Antonio architecture

San Antonio has some wonderful architecture, as I’ve previously posted. Here’s another taste.

They seem to like adding funky little additions to existing buildings:


Another one. Perhaps they’re even built at the same time as the main building – but they sure add some flavor to the design.


Lots of pattern and similarity in this government building near the Tower of the Americas and the new courthouse. Not much differentiation, though.


A 15-20 metre high sculpture in downtown San Diego near the convention centre. Labeled Friendship or something like that. I took this shot from directly underneath it, in the middle of its two legs.


Smaller buildings have their own flavor. This one might be boring and staid under the covers, but has been wrapped in living beauty:


More designed than architected, this little cafe just jumps out of the background:


San Antonio knows how to present itself after dark better than most cities. Here’s one of the towers of the old courthouse, near the Riverwalk.


Arguably the most beautiful of all San Antonio buildings at night – the 275-year-old San Fernando cathedral, just across from the old courthouse. Beautiful!


Tons of kids

I’m finally home from traveling 3 out of the last 4 weeks.

I remember seeing an interesting tutorial a couple of months ago on multiplying people in photographs, and we had a bit of time for fun, so I thought I’d celebrate being home by increasing the number of kids in our home.

Here are Gabrielle and Ethan, 5 times over:


Dragon bike

Saw this guy and his heavily customized motorcycle in downtown San Antonio today.

He rode all the way up from South America, and is collecting cash to take him and his bike all the way up to Alaska, and then to Europe.

Yes, that’s real flame – he presses a button and the dragon breathes fire!


San Antonio: city of churches

San Antonio seems to be a city of churches.

Lutheran, Baptist, Episcopal, Roman Catholic: you name it, there’s a great old church here in San Antonio.

Appropriate enough for a city named after a saint, and founded as a missionary post, I guess.

Early this afternoon, I couldn’t resist taking a snap of this precious little girl sitting on a stone bench in the utterly glorious Episcopal church yard.


(I just had to take the picture, but I took it quickly, not wanting her parents to see me and wonder if there was some kind of creep taking a picture of their little girl!)

What is this building?

OK, three guesses: what is this building?


It’s not a factory.

It’s not a warehouse.

Not a school.

And no, not an office building either.

It’s a close-up look of the structures immediately above the back entrance of First Baptist Church of San Antonio, where I went to church this morning. It’s an immense conglomeration of buildings that goes back to 1864 or so, according to an usher that I spoke too.

One piece was added on by building right over a city street. That’s what this passageway used to be … this shot shows what used to be the exterior of Webb Hall:


Off to Iraq

Met these three young men – US Marines – on the streets in San Antonio early this afternoon. In a couple of days, they’re deploying to Iraq.


I shook each 18, 19-year-old’s hand, and told them I respected what they were doing. And I offered a prayer for their safety.

. . .
. . .

By the way, there are a TON of uniformed people on the streets in San Antonio. I asked a few why, and apparently there are 5 or 6 army/air force bases in and around the city.

But that does not explain all the Navy personnel I see walking around in their dress whites … the nearest water must be around 150 kilometres away or so.

San Antonio architecture

Part of what makes a city a great city is its architecture.

You can have great architecture without a great city, but you can’t have a great city without great architecture.

When I travel, I love to experience the new place. And it becomes a special experience when the place has a style all it’s own. San Antonio’s style is heavily Southwestern, of course, and monolithic: stone.

Here are a couple of the sites and sights that caught my eye.

Two buildings for the price of one:


Funky streets make for funky buildings. This one with a bit of traffic light thrown in for special effect:


San Antonio loves its trees. These two are growing out of a restaurant right on the Riverwalk:


Kress appears to be some sort of department store or something like that, currently undergoing repairs:


San Antonio’s Riverwalk

Texas surprises me.

The only other time I’ve been in Texas was about 7 years ago in Austin. Great town, university town, right by a lake. Not stereotypical Texas.

Now I’m in San Antonio. And there’s no tumbleweed, no steers, and no cowboy hats. OK, correction, I saw one horse – they bring out the horse-drawn carriages at night – with an awkwardly tied-on cowboy hat.

The Riverwalk is great. What a place for a city to have to bring people together!


Another shot:


And, around the next bend, a wedding on the river. Too cool! That’s the bride and the groom – in a pink tuxedo! – right beneath the bell.


Don’t mess with the missionary man

Outdoor preaching at the Alamo:


I talked to his buddy for a few minutes. They’re from Calvary Church, just outside of downtown San Antonio, and spend every Saturday night here preaching to anyone who will listen. Kind of reminds me of Proverbs: “wisdom cries in the streets.”

Said a brief prayer for them, wished them well, and went on my way.

Casa Rio

Had lunch today on San Antonio’s Riverwalk at Casa Rio … house of the river. Authentic Mexican food, and great atmosphere right on the river.

That’s Tom Osborne with the dark hair, one of our regional sales managers, and Harold Ludwig from our product development group.


From the outside:


At the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas

I flew into San Antonio, Texas tonight for the NAESP conference (National Association of Elementary School Principals).

I happen to be staying in the Emily Morgan Hotel, and am fortunate enough to look out right over top of the Alamo. I took a stroll around at about 11ish local time and snapped a couple of night-time pix.

The church building at the Alamo site, seen from the side originally within the fort:


An oak tree I saw illuminated by dim spotlights:


An Alamo memorial. I took this with night-mode and held the camera as steady as I could, leaving the shutter open for about a second and a half:


A scene commemorating the Alamo. Again, night mode with a long shutter.


Davy Crockett’s name on the memorial …


Pretty in pink

On our recent trip to San Diego, we toured the USS Midway. It’s the longest-serving aircraft carrier in US naval history.

Gabrielle was (very) pleasantly surprised to find parts of the ship painted – of all colors – pink. I think it’s purple, but who am I to say?


(Gabrielle is wearing headphones that you get, with a little portable audio player, when you board. At various points, you see a number, enter that into your audio player, and it tells you some history about what you’re seeing.)


Ethan is madly into rock-climbing, or just plain climbing, these days. He’s always looking for something to climb.

Here he and I are climbing some rocks piled up into a breakwater at San Diego’s Ocean Beach. He’s an amazingly good climber already at age 6 – good enough to give me the occasional heart attack.