Monday, June 29, 2009

10 photos on Flickr explore

Explore is a way to discover the most interesting photos on Flickr. It shows the top 500 most interesting photos of every day. Each photo competes in the day it is uploaded, and the top list changes over time according to the views, comments, etc. of the photo. These 500 photos are selected by computers based on measurable factors.

While checking Scout today, I've realized that two new photos hit the Explore recently, and with these, I now have 10:

Self-self-self-mirror portrait in Melide (Explored)

Here is the scout poster of the photos (including the dropped ones):

10 explore photos: Thanks for all of my visitors

It was a good start of the day. :)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The new

Executive summary: New on less content, more pointers.

In details: I did not really update my site in the last years. It was made with Apple's iWeb, I had a lot of problems with that in the beginning (in Hungarian), and maintaining the site with that tool was a little bit of hassle.

Since then, the net evolved a lot (web2.0), so instead publishing new content to this site, I decided to use other sites, so that I have less content on this site and more content all around the web: my blog, my flickr page, facebook, twitter, etc.

I also added a link to my hacks page, which contains some open-source software.

I removed links to my old and outdated blogs, too. Here are the last links to them:
Now it is going to be OK for another few years, until web 3.0. :)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Quinten, part 2

Ok, now I have a little more time to tell the story of our Quinten trip.

Last year we had a trip to Quinten, but at 1/3 of the route, it started raining very heavily, so we had to turn back.

A few weeks ago my friends also started a trip to Quinten, but they also turned back because of the rain.

After these two incidents, this hiking destination seems to be unreachable and unconquestable.

The main important things about Quinten (from Wikipedia):
Quinten is an idyllic hamlet situated on the north shore of the Walensee in Switzerland. It belongs to the municipality of Quarten. As there are no roads leading to Quinten it is only reachable by boat or on foot.
According to this source, Quinten has only 41 inhabitants.

The plan was to go to Weesen with car, go to Quinten on foot, take the ship to Murg, go back to Weesen with train, and then go home. It was part of the plan not to departure early, since the best photos can be taken in the dusk.

That was enough for background, the photos themselves will tell the rest of the story, so click on the photo to continue:

Quinten, part 1

On the last weekend, we went to Quinten. It was a very interesting hike, it was not too difficult, but the rain and the scheduling made it slightly more complicated than we thought originally. :)

I don't want to tell the whole story now, I just uploaded a few photos to flickr from the tour.

The first photo was taken in Weesen, next to the train station, we left the car there. The weather was totally beautiful. I am very happy about my Manfrotto 725b tripod, I could close the aperture (f/14) and make the landscapes sharp. Note, that this shot is not HDR:

Swiss nature, Weesen

On the way, we've encountered a few tunnels, and the lights inside was really nice, so we decided to play with them. Here is Andi frozen for 1 sec. The lighting is entirely natural, it came from a hole in the side of the tunnel. (I forgot to remove the polar-filter, aaaargh):

Andi in the tunnel

Going further, when the road narrowed and we left the houses behind us, we've found a nice creek crossing our way. In this situation, the wide-angle lens was very handy:

Creek in the forest

Going just a few meters away, we've found a small waterfall. It was pretty dark here, so I could not do anything without the tripod. I think these long-exposure shots happens to be pretty good:

Waterfall in the forest 1

The wide angle version:

Waterfall in the forest 2

That's all for now, this was just a teaser. Stay tuned for the second part. :)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Bon Jovi: It's my life - performed by Googlers

I've got a mail in the company from Tamas about a song that they performed recently, and I acutally loved it very much. I asked him if I can publish the song, and he said OK for that, so I added a few photos of mine to it, and created a photo slideshow.

I struggled with the latest iMovie for hours (that's a looong story), but finally I managed to make it ready.

I especially like the intro part. Let me know how you like it:

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Ticino journey

I had a few photos and stories (Swiss Miniatures part 1, part 2, Group Shot in Melide and Self-self-self-mirror portrait) already posted about our journey in Ticino, but I still have some other to tell about that journey, since the weather was very nice, hot and humid, and it was really exciting to travel around beautiful mountains.

I uploaded the photos to Picasa, wrote some stories to the photos, and you can even see them on a map.

Just click on the slideshow to see to the photos:

Friday, June 12, 2009

I couldn't imagine that anyone would miss my old site with my very old hacks. But it happened!

I am moving out of my server, and I started to transfer the projects from that site to Google Code and Google Sites. I started it last weekend, but due to time constraints, I could not finish that, so I just created 5 projects in Google Code, plus I created the site for them. I wanted to finish during the week, but I could not manage to have time for that. I am always busy on weekdays, so it is anyway impossible to do any constructive thing, I don't even have time for blogging, so you'll got everything at the weekend. :)

But back to the story: I got an email recently that someone misses drsync. It is linked from the rsync resources page, and he was surprised that it is not there. I still did not move it to the new hacks page, so I pointed him to the old site.

The moral of the story: surprisingly some people are interested in my pretty old work, so it worth saving them. :)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Host your homepage at Google

Google does not have a free web-hosting service. Once upon a time there was a Google Pages, but that is now replaced by Google Sites. Pages allowed quite good control over the HTML that it generated, but its upload/download capabilities was not that good. Now Sites does not even allow control over HTML, because the structure of the pages are pretty strict. I can forgive it, since Sites is actually a very good collaborative tool.

I had an iWeb-created homepage on, and I pretty much liked that, but I'll remove my hosted server from the provider, so I had to find a place for this page. No PHP, no database, no code, just the HTML generated by iWeb.

I did not need too big space, but I wanted some reliability, so I choose Google.

But how do you host your page at Google if it does not have a web-hosting service? The answer is: Appengine! It can serve static files, and can store files up to 100MB (I think). Though it is not really designed for that, but it works. It is also not designed for frequent webpage updates, but I also did not need that.

How do you do that? Here are the steps:

1, Create an account at Google. Pretty easy from the Appengine homepage.

2, Create an application. It is also straightforward from the same page. You don't need to set up any authentication, just select a nice name for that, like www-example-com.

3, Download the AppEngine SDK. This is the official location of the SDK. Install it also.

4, Create your web-application. This is the hardest part, but it is not that hard either:

Create a directory for your application, let's call it myapp.

Copy your webpage into that in the data subdirectory.

Create an app.yaml file for the application. It is almost just a copy-paste from here. The only thing you need to edit is your application name:

application: myapp
version: 1
runtime: python
api_version: 1

- url: /$
static_files: data/index.html
upload: data/index.html

- url: /(.*)$
static_files: data/\1
upload: data/.*

4, When you are ready, you can upload your application (assuming you are in the myapp directory): update .

That's so simple. At least it seems. There are some problems with this simple approach, but you probably won't run into that:
  • I had filenames in my blog, which contain dots, and appengine did not like them.
  • Another issue is that in case the URL has // (double slash), then it reports a 404. Some of my internal links created URLs like that, so it had to be worked around that also.
If you are interested, I can explain how you can work these limitations around, let me know if you are interested.

What I want from Aperture 3.0

I've heard a rumor that Aperture 3.0 is just around the corner, and I hope that it is true. I like it very much, because of the non-destructive editing features it has. This blog post is actually inspired by another blog post in the same topic.

For 3.0, I have a short wishlist. If anyone at Apple is reading this (I doubt it, but who knows :) ), please consider the following things:

Speed / responsiveness

The biggest concerns for me about Aperture is the speed. Image loading is quite slow (for a 12MP RAW of my Canon EOS 450D on a 1 year-old MacBook Pro takes about 2-3 seconds), plus if I do some retouching, and I accidentally have to undo, it takes ages to re-render the photo.

If the software need to generate previews or thumbnails, it becomes really slow. Though it should not, since these activites run in a parallel thread.

API for non-destrictive plugins

While there are many plugins for Aperture right now, they are working in a destructive way: they copy your image when you use them. That's not so funny if your original RAW image is 14M and the TIFF file from it is also at least that big. I could imagine non-destructive third-party plugins for framing and watermarking, more effects, like adjusting perspective, etc.

Video support

No, I don't want Aperture to edit video, just to manage the content which is downloaded from my camera (including video maybe), show a thumbnail, and call the appropriate editing software (iMovie, Final Cut Express, etc.) if necessary. Modern DSLR-s have video support now, and the Canon EOS 5D MkII can be considered a pretty decent full-frame camera.


It has now vault, but it is limited to local drives, and I've heard that it is not really compatible with Time Machine (e.g.: if Aperture is running, then it possibly back up an inconsistent Aperture Library).

Extending the Vault to remote drives would be just simply awesome!

That's all

These were the things what I expect in Aperture to be improved. I think these are not too much, no need for fancy new features, just a more solid and faster app.

Two new photos on explore this week

I'm happy that two of my photos also got to explore this week:

Getty center

Buda Castle by Night / A Budai vár éjszaka

Here you can see my other explored photos.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Promise is promise - Shooting Dóri at Nemzeti

It was quite some time ago when I was in Hungary (exactly one month), but I still did not have time to look at the photos I took with Dóri.

The story of this is that I promised her many months ago that I'd make some photos of her, but somehow I did not have the time. When I was almost at the stage of losing my credibility, I suddenly had the opportunity for this.

I did not have my Cactus V4 triggers yet, and I knew that infra would not work, so that I borrowed an SB26 from Ákos, which can work as an optical slave. He also asked if I need another flash, but I said that'd be OK. Well, I regreted a little that I did not accept the offer, because one flash was not really enough sometimes as you can see from the photos.

Ok, but where to go to shoot? We discussed the potential places for shooting, and it turned out that Nemzeti would be good.

It was about 8pm when we started, the wind was pretty heavy, and the sun was almost totally down. It was pretty late.

I had a white shoot-through umbrella with the SB26 set to optical slave, plus I had an 580 EX II on my camera to trigger that. Later, when the sun went down, they turned on the reflectors, and they had some orange-ish light, so I put CTO to the flash to balance it. After that I had one reflector and one flash, so it worked out pretty well, but I could use another flash for backlight. You can see that her dark hair is not distinguishable from the background in some photos.

We were there until 10pm, where they started the sprinklers, and we had to rescue all the equipment from the water. :)

After looking at the photos, I am very satisfied with them, and found a few really good ones. If I have to redo this, I would use wireless triggers with my flashes, and I'd start 1-2 hours earlier, because that time of the sunset gives a lot of possibility.

I now uploaded only 3 photos of the set, but I'll gradually add more. Check back to here later for more: