Internet Serendipity: NCIS And Wi-Fi SD Cards

I love the internet. I really don’t understand people who say that they need to get away from the internet in order to take some time off: my time off is enriched by online access to a wide variety of services and information, and I wouldn’t want to lose that even if I am not taking the time to respond to (or even read) business-related email. For me, the key is avoiding email and phone calls, not avoiding the internet: there are too many things on the internet that I use as part of my leisure activities to turn it off altogether.

Case in point: last night, we decided to watch an hour of TV. We both like NCIS, and since we cut the cord on cable TV over three years ago, I pulled up the latest episode on the GlobalTV iPhone app (Global syndicates CBS shows for Canadian broadcast) and sent it via AirPlay to the AppleTV. That’s right, nothing but an internet connection, an iPhone and an AppleTV, and we’re watching this week’s episode of NCIS on our own TV. If I bothered to set up a US proxy for the AppleTV, I probably could have done this without the iPhone app, but this works just fine. Without the internet: not possible.

But that’s not all. I’m planning a trip to visit some friends for a few days, and will take only my Nexus Android tablet (for reading), my iPhone and my Nikon Coolpix camera – no netbook. Although it’s a short trip, I was a bit concerned about uploading the photos during the trip: when I have my netbook with me, I copy photos from the camera SD card to the netbook daily as a backup, and upload them to Dropbox if I have internet access. If I fill the memory card, I can delete photos from it since they’re backed up, and if my camera (or even my netbook) were lost or stolen, ditto. You’re probably wondering what this has to do with watching TV on the internet, but in that particular episode of NCIS, the murder victim had a wi-fi memory card in his camera that was automatically transferring photos to his tablet in the back seat of his car; the killer wiped the memory card but didn’t find the tablet. “Wi-fi memory cards? OMG FTW!” I thought (thereby missing a few minor plot points), “Where do I get one of these?”. Since my iPhone was busy serving up the TV show, I grabbed my Nexus and searched around. Eye-Fi was apparently the first to offer these, but Transcend offers higher data transfer speeds (during photographing, not the wi-fi connection) and is putting them out at a lower price. I bookmarked a couple of sites for later, and went back to NCIS. After the show, I searched around, found the Eye-Fi cards on Amazon, then found a camera shop in New York selling the Transcend cards through their eBay storefront, with shipping to Canada. I ordered the Transcend 16GB card, scheduled to arrive before I leave for my trip, and downloaded their iPhone and Android apps in preparation. Product research, comparison and purchase within an hour of discovering that a particular product type even existed: again, not feasible without the internet.

Taking full advantage of on-demand internet (rather than the internet having you on-demand) is a bit like turning off your phone ringer, and only using it when you want to: it only controls your actions if you allow it to. Turn off your push notifications, and your ringer if you like, but don’t disconnect if the internet adds value to your leisure time.

World Press Photo winners on display

The World Press Photo exhibit is on display in the atrium of Brookfield Place (formerly BCE Place) in downtown Toronto until October 24th. I checked it out today and it’s magnificent. It’s free, and open from 7am-10pm.

Since these are photographs, the exhibit is going on in several cities at the same time, and is moving on to others around the world; the schedule is on the site.

Still life and landscape photos

For those of you who may have enjoyed my Flickr photos from Provence, Florence and Venice, you probably noticed that they were taken by my very talented photographer friend Pat — she didn’t have a Flickr Pro account at the time that we took the trip, so allowed me to post them on my account.

Pat also does some amazing still life photos that she reprints on canvas and sells as decorative art; she’s now offering these for sale through Finer Works, plus some landscape scenes printed on fine art paper and suitable for framing. The pear is my fave.

My first professional photo gig

Okay, I didn’t get paid for it, so maybe it’s not really professional, but the author of a driver’s education course in California saw my photos of geese crossing the road (taken early one Saturday morning in eastern Toronto) and asked to include them as illustrations for the course. She just sent me a draft of the section that includes them:

Sharing the road with animals

Hard to ignore that global warming thing goin’ on

NASA’s Earth Observatory issues a weekly newsletter with links to the most interesting satellite photos of the week. This week, one of them showed how a piece of Greenland that was previously thought to be a peninsula was revealed as an island due to the melting ice cap.

You can subscribe to their weekly newsletter here.

Interested in cypress knees? Look no further

Cypress kneesIn Austin earlier this year, I went for a walk by the river and saw some really interesting cypress knees, the part of the root of the cypress tree that extends above the ground/waterline. These don’t grow this far north, and I’ve always been fascinated by the structure.

Last week, I received a request via Flickr:

Hi, I’m an admin for a group called Cypress Knees, and we’d love to have your photo added to the group.

A Flickr photo group just of cypress knees? How weird is that?! The group is already up to 22 members (not including me, since I didn’t join the group, just added my photo) and 118 photos, and the group admin has done something quite funny that I didn’t realize was possible in Flickr: when you go to the group members page, the tabs have been renamed. “Admins” is now “Kneebones”, “Moderators” is now “Anklebones”, and “Members” is now “Kneedys”.

Getting shot by Rannie

Rannie (a.k.a. photojunkie), a talented local photographer who I met through the TorCamp community, came over on Friday to shoot me. Photos, that is. I need a real headshot for my blogs and various speaking engagements coming up, rather than the current shot that was taken while on vacation in Murano.

I scrubbed the obvious bad ones — mostly the ones where Rannie couldn’t get me to shut the fuck up while he was shooting — but that still left almost 100 to choose from. Since I hate pictures taken of myself, especially those terrible posed family photos with rictus-like smiles on all faces (the result of “overexposure” while growing up with a father who worked for Kodak hence had nearly-free film), I asked the opinions of a few people who know me best for their opinions:

My sister Betty picked five that she liked, although didn’t specify any particular reasons:

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My boyfriend Damir picked his fave:


Rannie published what I assume to be his faves in his Portraits 2.0 set.

The best response came from my friend Pat in Ottawa, who works in PR so presumably sees a lot of headshots:

They evoke different reactions so here’s how I lined them up with what I got and you can decide if the pictures and the gut reaction are appropriate for what you are trying to communicate with the picture. I tended to pick ones that I thought focused on your best features; got the light in your eyes…I was looking for good lighting, flattering focus, no distractions. Now you know my criteria.

“Do not fuck with me and do I ever deliver the goods”:


“Seriously competent”:

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“Softer, gentler, guider and mentor”:


“Fun to work with”:

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“Competent, experienced and gorgeous”:


After going through the list myself, I narrowed it down to five (one of which was on Pat’s list, and one on Rannie’s):

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Turns out that I do like the smiley ones after all.