Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Waikiki this afternoon

I haven't had a chance to buy a new card reader so I still haven't been able to download any of yesterday's photos, but here are a few from this afternoon. I used a CF card so I was able to download this time. :-)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Grrrrr! Broken card reader...

Yesterday afternoon (seems like today since it is only 3:20 AM here) I had my Sony A700 DSLR out taking photos along the Waikiki and Kuhio beaches and I think I got some good shots. Got home and my card reader won't work. :-( It is one of those card readers that can handle just about any type of memory card known to man and all the slots are okay except the one I need. My A700 has slots for a compact flash (CF) card (typical for a DSLR) and a memory stick pro duo (MS) card. I usually use CF cards, but a few days ago I bought a 4gb MS Pro Duo card to stick in the extra slot. Well, yesterday I was saving the photos on the MS card. The card reader is fine with my CF cards and SD cards and a couple of days ago it was fine with MS cards too. Not now though. Only the MS card slot is messed up. I got it in some good light and I see that deep down inside there is a bent wire contact and I can't fix it. Oh well, I will have to go out and buy a new card reader just because of the one broken slot. The worst part though is that I want to see my photos on the card! :-)

Monday, December 29, 2008

A bit of Waikiki Beach Life

Just a few photos of life on the beach. For the last year and a half I have spent much of each day (except when I am away traveling) down at the beach. I live a 5 minute walk away so usually go there at least a couple of times everyday. Often to swim, but also with my camera to document beach life, get a cold drink, sit under the palm trees, etc. The kaleidoscope of people from all over the world mixed with the local people is amazing. I love it!

I have many more on my photo website:

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Songs for the coming Great Depression II

To get us all in the mood for what is coming, here you go. :-)

Until we get some good new ones, we can listen to a few Woody Guthrie songs from the last one. :-) These are great!

Ain't Got No Home -- Bruce Springsteen:

This Land Is Your Land -- Bruce Springsteen:

This Land Is Your Land -- Woody Guthrie:

Do Re Mi -- John Cougar Mellencamp:

Headless Tourist

The feared Headless Tourist stalks the beaches in Hawaii.

Beautiful 7:15 AM sky

Here are a couple of photos from my lanai this morning at 7:15 AM:

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Waikiki is full of tourists!

This week Waikiki is full of tourists! Get a load of the beach. :-) Tourism is down this year, but you wouldn't know it by the scenes this week. These photos are from today.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Morning view

Here is a photo from my lanai about 1 hour ago.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Waikiki Christmas

Diamond Head

Diamond Head is getting so green! At this time of year there is a more rain so Diamond Head gradually gets greener and greener. During the summer it was mostly brown. Here's a photo from my lanai a couple of days ago.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

And here are some more Christmas lights using very slow shutter speeds and intentionally moving the camera.

Christmas Lights

On Saturday night I joined up with several friends and we went over to a neighborhood in Pearl City that is known for having lots of Christmas lights each year. Here are a few photos! Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Photos using a digicam

Most of you know I have been using SLRs for many years and then 5 years ago I started using DSLRs (digital SLRs). I have been using Canon and Sony DSLRs and my current one is the Sony A700. But, I don't always carry a DSLR around with me since they are relatively big and heavy so, instead, I always keep a little digicam in my pocket. See my previous post to see the one I am currently using. Just for grins, here are a few of my recent digicam photos:

Canon A590IS digicam

Fairly regularly people ask me about what kind of camera they should get. I don't know! :-) But, in case you are looking for a digicam and want a good one at a great price then I thought I would tell you about the one I bought a couple of weeks ago. I got the Canon A590IS for only $110 and free shipping from I am a big "bang for the buck" sort of guy and this one is quite good. It isn't one of the tiny digicams, but isn't big either. Also, it isn't the sexiest design -- just very functional with controls easily accessible so you rarely need to do any menu diving. It is designed more for easy use than as something to be put on the shelf and looked at. :-) Unusual for these days it also has an optical viewfinder (OVF) in addition to the typical rear LCD which can be used as the viewfinder. I don't want a digicam without an OVF because often outside in bright light you can hardly use the LCD. Actually, I use the OVF almost all the time. Also, this camera has image stabilization (IS) so that helps to get sharper shots when the light is a bit low since it can counteract some of the camera shake when relatively slow shutter speeds are used -- IS can't, of course, stop subject movement though. I have seen it advertised locally here in Honolulu for $150 a lot lately, but on the internet you can find it for less.

It uses 2 AA batteries. I never use the alkaline AA batteries that you use once and then toss. I have a bunch of nimh rechargeable AA batteries because not only do they hold more power so that you don't have to change batteries as often but also they can be reused over and over. Some of mine are 6.5 years old and still work. You can usually get 4 of them for about $8-10 and a charger will cost $10-20. Often you will see a charger + 4 nimh AA batteries for $15-25. A few months ago I bought a Rayovac charger that included 6 2,100 mAh AA batteries and 2 800 mAh AAA batteries for $15 at Fry's Electronics! One other good point is that if you forget to charge your batteries or have no place to charge them then you can buy a pack of alkaline AA batteries anywhere and you are good to go.

In 2006 I bought an earlier version called the A540 for $180. Nice little camera. In 2004 I bought the A70 for $280. The Canon A series digicams just keep getting better and cheaper. I like that. :-) The two earlier ones did not have IS though and, of course, fewer megapixels and fewer features. Of the three this one is my favorite. Of course, this is a digicam with all the advantages and disadvantages that is inherant in that. For me the good points of this one far outweigh the not so good points. For you the balance might be elsewhere. Keep that in mind!

These little digicams are my "always in my pocket" camera that I take pretty much everywhere. Speaking of pockets, it easily fits in my shirt pocket but is a bit too heavy there. I keep it in the side pocket of my cargo shorts -- which is what I wear pretty much 100% of the time in Hawaii (the rest of the time is generally a swimming suit).

Anyway, for those who are more technically minded then here are some reviews:

And here is a short video preview so you can actually see what it looks like in someone's hands:

Anyway, today as I was walking down by the beach and taking a few photos with this digicam it occurred to me that maybe at this time of year a few other people might be looking for a digicam and with the worldwide economic mess a good price might also be important!

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

White Christmas

Here is my favorite White Christmas! Enjoy!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Honolulu Marathon

This morning I walked over to Kapiolani Park about 8:30 AM to take a few photos of the finish line area of the Honolulu Marathon which was held this morning. If you want to take a look I have some photos in my Hawaii/Hawaii 5 album:

When I went at 8:30 AM I took my Sony A700 DSLR, but then I went back about 11:30 AM and just took my Canon A590IS digicam. The first set of photos in Hawaii 5 are with the A700 and the later ones are with the A590IS.

Last year there were over 25,000 people from Japan running in the marathon, but this year it is a bit over 13,000. Of course, most of them are here with family and friends so there are lots of Japanese around Waikiki the last few days. Unfortunately, the weather has been overcast and raining quite a lot for several days so they didn't get the normal beautiful blue and sunny skies.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Hitler is very angry with Nikon

There is lots of anger and angst among Nikon owners right now so you won't understand all the funny references, but you will probably still enjoy it. Nikon just announced the D3x body for $8,000! :-) This is hilarious!!!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Waikiki on Thanksgiving Day 2008

I made this short video on Waikiki Beach this morning. Please note the wonderful plot, character development, outstanding use of light and camera angles. A fine piece of work!

I hope all of you are having a very nice Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Bought an Asus Eee PC 900HA netbook

I ordered an Asus Eee PC 900HA netbook a few days ago and it arrived today. It is quite small and should be great for when I travel. I got it for $262 ($350 - $88 Windows Live 25% discount).

This particular one has an 8.9" screen, 1.6ghz Intel Atom cpu, 1gb ram, 160gb hd, WinXP. These days several companies are making these small, cheap notebook computers, but the Asus Eee PC line and Acer Aspire One line are probably the most popular.

There are various versions of the Eee PC and Aspire One, some with Linux, some with WinXP. Some with a HD (hard disk), some with an SSD (solid state disk). Various prices and screen sizes (7", 8.9", 10").

For awhile I had been thinking I would get one with an SSD instead of a HD and get Linux instead of WinXP, but the HD is much larger and with WinXP I can load some of my current software on it if I want.

I plan to use mine while traveling mostly for getting on the internet. These days lots of places have free wifi so it will be great. For example, recently in Thailand and Mexico we saw lots of free wifi. I can also download photos and look at them on a pretty good size screen (compared to the 3" LCD on the back of the camera) so that is a nice extra. It weighs about 2.4 pounds so that isn't too bad. Since 2003 I have been carrying my 30gb PSD (portable storage device) when I travel, but I won't have to carry it anymore so there isn't much weight or bulk gain, I think.

It is amazing how fast things have progressed. This cheap new netbook has the same amount of memory and same size hd as the HP WinXP desktop I bought 3 years ago. The cpu is a bit slower though.

Here is a photo of it sitting on top of my HP 17" notebook pc:

And here is a pretty cool video review:

Monday, May 12, 2008


I just returned from a few weeks traveling in Mexico. As usual, I didn't have any plans or itinerary so I just bought one-way plane tickets to Cancun and after that took buses to other places whenever I was ready to move on. Here is where I went:

Chichen Itza
Mexico City
San Miguel de Allende

The ocean and beach at Cancun were beautiful, but it was much too touristy for me so I was happy to leave there after just a couple of days. I took a bus across the Yucatan Peninsula to Merida and liked it much better. I was able to get a hotel just half a block off the Plaza Grande (main square or zocalo) and the room was good, the price was great, and the people working there were all very nice. I stayed for a week or so and on one day I took a bus to the Maya sites at Uxmal, Kabah, Sayil, and Labna. A few days later I also took a bus to the most famous Maya site at Chichen Itza. The Maya ruins at Uxmal and Chichen Itza in the Yucatan were amazing!

Finally, it was time to move on so I bought plane tickets and flew to Mexico City. Mexico City is one of the largest cities in the world, but it is very easy to get around. There is a subway station in the airport and you can go anywhere in the city and have unlimited transfers to any of the dozen or so subway lines for 2 pesos (US$0.20)! I stayed in a hotel about 2 blocks from the zocalo (main square) in the historic center of the city. It was a very convenient place to stay and lots to see just by walking around in the area. After a few days there I felt like moving on so decided to take a bus to the beautiful little town of San Miguel de Allende. There are some Spanish schools in the town and I would like to do a homestay and study there sometime. I stayed a few days and then took a bus to Guanajuato -- an old and wonderful small city with a famous university in the centro so there were many young people and lots of energy.

My travel book says that for a few centuries Guanajuato was the richest city in Mexico because of all the silver mined around here and sent back to Spain. It shows. The centro has many beautiful old colonial buildings and houses. The center of the city is actually in a ravine with houses built up on both sides. The main street runs uphill down at the bottom of the ravine. The cobblestone main street is just barely wide enough for one car though and is one way so it isn't a big avenue. Very nice for walking and then heading up the steep side alleys and lanes (only walking, no cars or motorbikes). Many small plazas scattered around. This is the most European city in Mexico we have found so far.

All of the places were very interesting and the Mexican people are very friendly. I want to go to Mexico again and see other parts of the country. After Guanajuato I took a bus back to Mexico City and hung around there for a few more days and then flew back to Austin. Although I spent four years studying Spanish in high school and university I have forgotten most of it, but I do remember a few words and a few simple phrases. Communicating was a bit easier than in countries like Thailand because Spanish uses the western alphabet so it is easy to read signs, menus, etc.

I have a few photos from the trip in the Mexico gallery:

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Cambodia, Thailand travels

It has been awhile since I have posted here -- I have been busy traveling, doing income taxes (ugh!), etc. I left Tokyo just before Christmas and traveled in Cambodia and Thailand for a month. Of course, I have been to Thailand several times before, but it was my first time to go to Cambodia. Cambodia was really cool. Reminded me a bit of Laos in 1998 and it was how I imagine Thailand was 50 years ago.