dsphotographic Now with More Awesomeness

A few weeks ago, I had decided to take some steps to upgrade my site. A couple new features here and there and I hoped it would start to fulfill the goals of the site in a more efficient way.

What I quickly realized upon making additions was that the core framework the site was insufficient for my needs. The thing was held together with duct tape and no more tape was going to make it solid. My attempts to improve upon what I had made this clear – I need some solid bolts or welding to underpin this thing, not tape.

I started to tinker with an alternative content management system: WordPress. It was like settling into a comfortable chair. It was so relieving to have my CMS work predictably. I told it to do something; it did it. Fancy that.

I started to develop a new, friendlier version of my site using WordPress as the engine. I was planning on developing it behind the scenes while my current site remained in place for any viewers who happened to come my why during development. A couple days later, that plan went down the tube when I learned that all the images on my site were no longer accessible due to who knows what error.

I couldn’t have people trying to find my work and ending up receiving only errors, so I took down the site and started to rebuild in earnest.

A short while later and I am counting down to launch. The site may look mostly the same to you, but to me, the difference is like riding a high-end, custom-built mountain bike with good shocks versus a rusty shopping bike with no seat.

And with that, let me welcome you to the new and improved Please feel free to let me know what you think. I’m especially eager to hear from Windows users since I haven’t had much opportunity to test the site on a PC.

I now intend to use the brand-spankin’ new backend to deliver more content to this lovely little blog. When I’m not travelling, I hope I can be a good source of travel photography (and related) news. (With, of course, the occasional bit of unrelated, fun news thrown in just because.)

While travelling, it will be business as usual with my posts. Updates will come as time permits, but I always prefer being behind the lens and shooting marvelous locations to sitting behind a computer if I’m given the choice.

I hope all that’s not too confusing and I hope you’ll follow along.

So, WordPress is Pretty Hot

Yeah, I’m seriously regretting using Mambo now. I’ve just been using WordPress for about a half hour now and it is so much more user friendly. I really think I could have the non-gallery portion of my site up and ready to go in no time.

The problem is that pesky Gallery software. I think I could leave it as a standalone, but I would have to do some serious changes to the CSS files. That’s not really a big deal at first glance, but really, without being able to see it in IE, I’m bound to be in for a few surprises considering it’s so bloody hard to get that script to do what you want.

That’s all fine and good. I know how I could do that. One tricky thing though would be to try to get a search block for the images working on the non-gallery pages. Right now I can do that through Mambo (which, by the way, was a total fluke of coding and I still don’t really know what I did). I really don’t think I would have such good luck with WordPress. I really want people to be able to search my images from anywhere on my site, but I don’t know if that’s going to be possible.

RSS: Now With Less Suck!

I spent a little time yesterday making some improvements to the site. First off is a revamping of the RSS feed. Previously, the RSS feed generated by the Mambo CMS (Content Management System) had no real dates attached to the items. But, thanks to this hack, the RSS feed is now actually accurate.

I also added the ability to comment on blog entries and articles. I don’t really know if anyone will be interested in making comments or not, but at least now they have the option!

I would also like to add some kind of trackback or pingback functionality to the blog here, but I am now discovering that Mambo is really a horrible platform for blogging. I’m now kicking myself for using this particular CMS – something like WordPress would probably have suited me just fine. I didn’t necessarily need to have my gallery embedded into the overall CMS and I could have had them working together adequately without all the hassles of Mambo.

If only I were efficient enough to implement a new site CMS in a few days. I would give it a go, but a few things are going to hold me back from that. First off, I don’t have a PC for testing, so I can pretty much forget about it. I also don’t have a lot of time on my hands for this sort of thing. On a related note, the amount of content on this site is escalating every day and porting it over to another CMS would likely take a while. Oh well. I have what I have for now so I’ll see if I can make th best of it.

Hello, I'm a Mac

Yes, I’m posting to tell you to watch some commercials. Mac commercials specifically. A clever little series of spots are up on the Apple site to pour fuel on the fire of Mac Vs. PC debates the whole web over:

Get a Mac.

Apologies from Laos

I know it’s been a while. Sorry about that. But i have a good excuse.

You see, I write all my journals on my laptop before posting them online. That’s why a couple weeks worth of writing will suddenly appear en masse – that means I’ve found a good Internet cafe where I can plug in my Powerbook.

Unfortunately, right now, that Powerbook doesn’t really like working. Sick of its job, it has decided to take a bit of a leave of absence and now won’t start up unless I boot in safe mode. And even then, it still takes a good ten minutes.

Since I’ve tried every solution I know with no results, the next step is for me to wipe the hard drive and hope that I don’t have a disk problem. Everything’s backed up, so I’m not going to lose any photos. And once everything is somewhat fixed, I should be able to update this page to give some details about my time in Vietnam.

For now, I will bid you fond greetings and some apologies for my e-absence from Laos. Luang Pranbang is a fine place and I hope i will be able to tell you a bit about it soon!

RSS Feed

An RSS feed is now available for It combines both the blog and the news sections into one feed for easy viewing. Point your RSS reader here to grab the feed.

And if you have no idea what RSS is all about, provides some RSS insight:

“RSS is a format for syndicating news and the content of news-like sites, including major news sites like Wired, news-oriented community sites like Slashdot, and personal weblogs. But it’s not just for news. Pretty much anything that can be broken down into discrete items can be syndicated via RSS: the “recent changes” page of a wiki, a changelog of CVS checkins, even the revision history of a book. Once information about each item is in RSS format, an RSS-aware program can check the feed for changes and react to the changes in an appropriate way.”

Nikon D200

Nikon has just announced the D200. This camera is meant to be the successor to the D100 and from the spec sheet, it sounds like a fine addition to the camera bag. A couple highlights include: 10.2 megapixel sensor and five frames per second continuous shooting.

For more information, check out the announcement and preview on

Apple Aperture

Apple today announced a new RAW file processing application called Aperture. Check out some of the videos on the site – it looks impressive.

If it’s as speedy as Apple claims it to be and with some of its sexy features, it could end up being my new tool of choice for RAW processing. Tools like the loupe tool, the project management and the dust removal all within one single application could potentially make it find a place into my workflow.

A Birthday Update

I’m not a terribly materialist person. Fancy cars, expensive watches, gold-plated diapers; these mean little to me. I tend to go for function over form with most of my possessions.

The lone exception may be gadgetry. I like having nice toys. While my financial situation rarely affords me the opportunity to indulge in my fantasy of an unlimited shopping spree through Yodobashi camera, I do have a few chip-laden tools that are near and dear to me.

The most prized of these possessions is my computer. My lovely little Powerbook, over the course of the last year has become my darkroom, my journal, my stereo and CD collection, my DVD player, my video arcade, my answering machine, my post office, my newspaper and even my television.

So, when my hard drive on said Powerbook decides to quit the world of the living, I get sad. Fortunately, however, before slipping into eternal slumber, I was able to diagnose its terminal condition and backup the contents of the drive. Very little data was lost, so that was a big plus. The downsides were the big sum of cash I had to pay to get it fixed and the two-week delay in its return to me.

So, that explains why I haven’t exactly been punctual with my journal entries as of late.

Instead of the verbose, bored-in-the-office-with-little-else-to-do entries that could have occurred in the last couple of weeks, you will now get the condensed version.

The past couple of weekends have featured a couple birthday parties. The first was Brent’s whose bash included a great deal of food consumption and another spectacular round of karaoke. Sarah and I spent a good part of the day grating the raw materials necessary to create Sarah’s delicious veggie sausage rolls. Every tear shed into the grated onions just added the flavour of devotion to the project.

Sarah was also the mastermind behind our gift to Brent: a shrine devoted to the legendary Cliff Richard. Now, Brent holds a large place in the bottom of his heart for the master English songsmith, so it seemed only appropriate to find a leopard-print picture frame to house a photo of the young Mr. Richard at his pouty, come-hither best. Add to that some incense and candles plus a custom-made CD of Cliff’s magna opi (or magnum opuses to all you folks you don’t like to try to conjugate Latin) and Brent was pretty much in hysterics. Mission accomplished.

The next day, a group of us headed north to Kitakami for Italian lunch then a performance by Kodo, the drumming troupe from the Japanese island of Sado. An ear-ringingly good time was had by all.

The next five days counted as my fourth successive week of elementary school teaching. Even now, after being here for a year, I am still going to new schools and giving, self-intro lessons. That made for a few fun moments on June 21st when I inevitably had to tell the curious class when my birthday was. I was treated to numerous choruses of ‘Happy Birthday’ with each of them stumbling when they had reached ‘Dear Da-bi”

That evening, Sarah was kind enough to cook a quiet dinner for me en lieu of a party – that was coming later. Gnocchi was followed by brownies that were destined to become the first in a long line of heavily-sugared foodstuffs to be delivered to me as a birthday gift.

Everyone here knows that I’ll be heading off to Malaysia soon and I don’t want to pack along a lot of extra baggage. They also know I have a sweet tooth that can bite through just about anything. What they may have overestimated, however, is the ability of my body to actually process the amount of refined sugar that now sits in my apartment. Maybe if I had a few months to eat it all, I could manage, but with only a month before I live, I suspect I will be passing out sweet gifts here and there.

My birthday party this Saturday was a well-attended affair, but there were a few people I would have loved to have there that couldn’t make it. Despite a few absences, a great time was had at a party designed to have me feel like a twelve year old instead of a thirty year old. It was pizza and bowling and the only thing that could have heightened the sense of youthful nostalgia would have been a local Chucky Cheese’s franchise. For the record (and because this is my blog and I’m allowed to be a little vain) I did manage to record the highest bowling score of the evening, a respectable (for me) 141. Jonathan was inches behind with a 140 in a hotly-contested match that came down to the last pin.

Yesterday, Sarah, Josh, and north-side Sarah returned to Kitakami to witness the awesome cinematic spectacle that is Batman Begins. A great movie topped off a great weekend.

Now, with my computer back, I can resume my insatiable consumption of information (though I did manage to finish off a few books while it was gone). But more importantly, I can resume work on my now behind-schedule website. I had hoped to have it finished before I left for Malaysia, but that may now be a difficult proposition. If only all this teaching nonsense didn’t get in the way’

Apple Switches to Intel Processors

Well, the rumour sites were right and Steve Jobs announced today at Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference that Apple will be making the switch to Intel processors. See the keynote speech here and read the Apple press release here.

At its Worldwide Developer Conference today, Apple announced plans to deliver models of its Macintosh computers using Intel microprocessors by this time next year, and to transition all of its Macs to using Intel microprocessors by the end of 2007. Apple previewed a version of its critically acclaimed operating system, Mac OS X Tiger, running on an Intel-based Mac to the over 3,800 developers attending CEO Steve Jobs’ keynote address. Apple also announced the availability of a Developer Transition Kit, consisting of an Intel-based Mac development system along with preview versions of Apple’s software, which will allow developers to prepare versions of their applications which will run on both PowerPC and Intel-based Macs…

Open RAW File Format

The digital camera industry is very young; less than 10 years old. Because of this each camera maker has developed their own RAW formats. And, as their ability to improve the way in which information from the camera’s sensor is recorded improves, these manufacturers have changed their formats continuously, usually with each new camera model.

How many RAW formats are there? Believe it or not, as of mid-2005 there are more than 100 different RAW formats in existence.

This alone is cause for concern. Companies come and go, and even those that persist often orphan old formats. There are in fact RAW formats in existence for which no manufacturer’s software is currently available. And that’s after less than 10 years.

The above is from an article from OpenRAW and The Luminous Landscape. It advocates the development of an open standard for the RAW file format so that photographers don’t have to worry about being unable to access their own photos in the future. Probably a good idea.

Read more here.

Adobe Buys Macromedia

Adobe Systems Incorporated has announced a definitive agreement to acquire Macromedia in an all-stock transaction valued at approximately $3.4 billion.

Read more from Adobe and Macromedia.

I just hope some company steps up to the plate to provide some competition to this ever-more enormous corporation.


Friday, April 29: Tiger will be available.

Virtual Sightseeing

With the advent of the satellite images implemented in the super-sexy Google maps application comes a blog devoted to virtual sightseeing. See some famous landmarks from miles above.

Adobe CS2 Announced

The next version of the Creative Suite line of software from Adobe is set to be shipped in May. dpreview has a succinct round-up of what’s new in PhotoShop CS2.

New DSLRs from Nikon

According to a couple sites, Nikon has accidentally leaked user manuals for unanounced cameras. The manual for a new entry-level DSLR called the D50 was briefly posted to one of Nikon’s websites. According to this story from the camera’s existence has been confirmed by the official Nikon spokesperson.

At the same time, Rob Galbraith is reportting that another manual for a camera called the D70s has also been leaked/accidentally posted. Nikon has not confirmed the existence of this camera.

In any case, new toys are fun!

Speed Up Firefox

This is old-ish news, but new to me, so I thought I would share. This page has a couple of effective ways of speeding up Firefox page rendering. They work too!

Now, if you don’t know what Firefox is, you’re probably using Internet Explorer as a browser. You really should stop doing that. It’s not very good. Firefox is much better. Just try it for yourself and you’ll see it has much more awesomeness than IE and you’ll be making my life easier while I write the code for this site. Or you could buy a Mac and use Safari. That works too.

This concludes my highly-scientific evaluation of browser options.

The Future of Apple Innovations

Business 2.0 has published this article detailing the possible innovations Apple may have in store for consumers. Wireless iPods, portable video displays, home entertainment networking, iPhones and car-stereo/iPod integration are the major speculations here. Worth a look for the Apple fanboys in the house.

Playstation Portable

I’m not even that into these kinds of video games, but the new Playstation Portable sounds pretty cool according to this article.

While I wouldn’t complain, I think I would still rather receive an iPod Photo for my birthday (or just as a random present since my birthday isn’t until June). You know, just in case anyone was wondering…

144-Megapixel Camera

If your DSLR just isn’t giving you the size and quality you want, you could always try this 144-megapixel camera.

Granted, it’s not exactly a hand-held DSLR, and I imagine the image files are a bit of a hassle to work with, but I’d love to see just one of the full files to see the detail this contraption would deliver. Development Underway

The sun is shining. The birds are chirping. Mambo is mamboing and this site is starting to take shape.

The blog is up to date, The links section is populated. A new design is taking shape and looking not too shabby.

Of course, the ‘to do’ list remains much longer than the ‘completed tasks’ list. Much longer. However, with the posting of this news item, the news section has now started to get populated. Yay!

How to Irritate a Geek (Part II)

I just need to point out that if the network had been down for this long at a real company, someone would have been fired by now.