Postcard from the Ham

Barcelona, 31 August 2018

Hi, family!

We spent the day wandering the Gothic Quarter and the old market, La Bouqueria, with our guide, Lidia, ate lots of jamon Iberico, and ended with a visit to the Picasso Museum. Picasso gave the museum hundreds of paintings from his workshop and it was fascinating to see his development from a precocious 15-year-old to the genius we know today.

We ate dinner at a cafe on Plaza Reial just off La Rambla – more ham, late summer tomatoes, and Spanish cheese topped off with a perfect apple tart and coffee. Then we hunted Pokémon all the way back to our hotel in the old Jewish Quarter.

Tomorrow we board our ship and sail for Valencia, Spain.

Love,

Postcards from the Edge

SFO, 29 August 2018

Hi, family!

We are about to sail around the Western Mediterranean for the next three weeks.

This is the first of a bunch of postcards we plan to send you from our trip. We’re hoping to mail one from every port!

Next stop, Barcelona, Spain!

Love,

Bye-Bye Birdie

Dead-Twitter-Bird.pngI’m just done.

Yesterday I deactivated my Twitter account and kicked Tumblr to the curb. A couple of weeks ago I did the same with Instagram. A month or so before that I killed Facebook. And I survived. No, thrived!

Call me a recovering social media addict minus the withdrawal. I do have a read-only Twitter account with links to news sources. If someone famous dies, or there’s an earthquake, I can go there. Otherwise the daily spew of outrage and bile can go on without me.

If you used to follow me on one of those sites you can follow me here, instead. Or on micro.blog. I’m also playing with Mastodon – so far it’s much more civilized.

I’ll post my best pictures on Flickr and Smugmug. I’ll send actual postcards to my family (thanks to Bill Atkinson’s PhotoCard).

Lisa and I are heading out tonight for a cruise around the western Mediterranean. It’s my goal to post a picture a day here.

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If The Donald has something to say he can leave it in the comments. See you in a month!

Drafting My Day

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Watch iOSToday for my demonstration of an amazing iOS app called Drafts ($4.99 iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch).

A hat tip to iMore’s Vector podcast with Réné Ritchie, Merlin Mann, and Drafts’ author, Greg Pierce, for turning me on to this iOS gem.

Consider Drafts a starting point for text entry. The app takes significant effort to understand and configure, but trust me it’s worth it. Drafts has so many useful features you’ll definitely want to watch David Sparks tutorial videos on the Drafts web site to get started.

If you’re into Dave Allen’s GTD methodology you’ll understand it as a trusted place to brain-dump: a way to get all those “open loops” out of your brain and stored somewhere for later processing.

Drafts is designed for a keyboard but I use dictation a lot, especially on the fly with the Apple Watch. Note the complication in the upper right of my watch face above. Tapping the icon launches Drafts on the watch ready to take dictation. The 0 says I have zero unprocessed entries in drafts. That’s a handy indicator when I have text in my queue that needs handling.

So far I’m doing a lot of calendaring, messaging, and yes, blogging, with it. In fact, that’s how I wrote this post.

I’m hoping I can use it this week as I head off tonight to Tortola to sail around the British Virgin Islands with my son, Henry, and his pal HT.  Meanwhile Happy Holidays to you and yours! I’ll be back live on TWiT on January 2.

Machu Picchu and Galápagos: My Best Shots

I am very proud of myself.

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Photo Credit: Lisa Laporte

My habit, after a vacation, is to put away the pictures (well, stuff them in a folder on a big hard drive, anyway) and never look at them again. The thought of going through thousands of pictures to find the gems is just too daunting.

This time I did better. My friend, photographer Chris Marquardt, has written a useful little pamphlet called “1 Hour, 1000 Pics” that he gives away for free at 1hour1000pics.com. It describes a method for quick triage of your pictures. I tried to apply this every night on our recent trip to Machu Picchu and the Galápagos. And it worked! I used it to whittle 4000 images down to 30 that I’m pretty proud of. I’ve posted them on my SmugMug page and below. You can download full-size images from SmugMug and even buy prints there at cost. I love SmugMug!

You can also look at the Sway presentation I made for a more informal travelogue, and eventually Lisa and I will publish our joint Google Photos album with many more images (hers are better than mine and you can see them at Life of Lisa.com). But I consider these my best. And now I’m done. In a few months I’ll delete the rejects, saving space and photo guilt. What a relief.

All the photos with one exception were made with my Canon 5D Mark IV. The exception is a sunrise shot of Machu Picchu I took with my Google Pixel XL camera phone. Naturally it’s my best image of Machu Picchu. Go figure.

I organize and perform basic editing with Adobe Lightroom. Some of the images were imported into Topaz Studio for additional processing. And the HDRs were created with Photomatix Pro. Lightroom is a little slow with the 30MP images that come out of the Canon, so in future I’m planning to use Photo Mechanic for the initial triage then import the three star images into Lightroom for processing. Chris’s methodology works perfectly with Photo Mechanic and it’s much faster. Thank you, Chris!

The Galápagos is a treasure and a reminder of what the planet looked like before humans. We feel very blessed to have seen it. I hope you enjoy the pictures I brought back.

 

Treed

Lisa in Tree

We’re practicing for our vacation. Lisa by climbing trees. I’m practicing taking pictures of her climbing trees.

At the advice of Thomas Hawk I’m thinking of biting the bullet and bringing the big and heavy Canon 5D Mark IV and an assortment of lenses (70-200, 16-35, and a fast 50). That’s about 15 pounds of gear. I was planning on taking the lighter Sony A7 but when you add the Sony lenses it’s only a pound or two lighter. Thomas says I’ll be glad I brought the Canon. Both these shots are from today using the Canon with a 16-35 f2.8 lens.

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So. Canon or Sony. What would you bring?

 

Galloping Galápagos!

muffinSo this is why I am so adamant about hosting your own content.

I was hoping to use Storyhouse to host pictures from my upcoming trip to South America. I’d used them to create a couple of slideshows before and I liked the mobile app and the features. But they were bought by Square last year and shutdown. My beautiful “Makin’ Muffins” story (including video and the recipe) is 404d forever.

I could use Microsoft’s Sway to do the same thing. Mary Jo Foley does and it looks great. And I don’t anticipate Microsoft will be going out of business in my lifetime (or be sold to Square) but who knows how long they’ll host my story?

So. Do you have a suggestion for a WordPress plugin or some such hostable tool for posting quick slideshows from the road. Extra points for a mobile app. Once I get home I will put my pictures on Flickr and Smugmug as per usual. I’m looking for an easy, low bandwidth solution I can use in Machu Picchu and the Galápagos.

UPDATE: After some thought I realized the best solution would be something self-hosted that allowed structured posting of pictures, video, audio, text, and, ideally, maps. In other words, an online travel journal. And if I could embed the resulting slideshow here that would be even better. Looks like there’s something just right from GIS firm Esri: Story Map Journal. Esri provides the maps and will host it free for non-commercial users, and the source is on github. I’ll be playing with it before I leave and let you know.

UPDATE 2: Esri’s Story Map Journal turns out to be way too complicated to use on the road, especially with limited bandwidth. Instead I’m going to use a Google Photos Album to do create my travel journal. This fits into my usual workflow anyway. At the end of every day I copy the photos I’ve taken from my DSLR to my Google Pixel XL (Canon and Sony provide an app to do this.) Then the phone copies the photos to Google Photos. This often takes many hours, but with Google Fi I generally have decent and inexpensive bandwidth in most countries. Once my photos are on the net I can put them into the Google Photos album I’ve already created. By the time I return I should have a decent photo album, complete with maps, to post or even print now that Photos offers photo books.

In theory I can embed the album here, too, using a plug-in.

 

Why I Fast

I’m not a doctor, and you shouldn’t consider me an authority on any health issue, but this is what I’m reading now…

It’s a new book from Canadian nephrologist (kidney doctor) Jason Fung, M.D. Much of what is in this book is also available on his YouTube channel.

Everything in here makes total sense to me and is backed by extensive human studies (Dr. Fung eschews animal studies).

I’ve been doing a 42-hour water fast three times a week for the last few weeks based on Dr. Fung’s other book…

Tbe Complete Guide to Fasting

It’s surprisingly easy. I’ll let you know how it works.