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Most recent entry: 2010-06-27 00:00:00 -- Generated on 2014-12-13 20:02:47 by Rig3 0.4-440






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2010/06/27 Gay Pride Parade in San Francisco
π 2010-06-27 00:00 in Public
Well, since I happened to be in SF already, although I spent the morning at the Science Museum, I had no excuse not to join the parade mid-way. I actually managed to drive down from the Golden Gate Park and find street parking within walking distance without getting stuck in a non moving stream of cars.

I can now see how it actually takes forever since after arriving about 2H late, the parade was around group #140, and still going strong. I basically joined from the end, by civic center where everyone was ending up, and worked my way back up the parade, still in time to see some nice floats, including my coworkers from Google. Yeah!

Street Blocks filled around Civic Center
Street Blocks filled around Civic Center

Pick your color, shape, and size :)
Pick your color, shape, and size :)

Most companies were present
Most companies were present

Although Gold's Gym did win by having the best male bodies :)
Although Gold's Gym did win by having the best male bodies :)



My coworkers
My coworkers

Where's Waldo? :)
Where's Waldo? :)

See more images for Gay Pride Parade in San Francisco
2010/06/27 California Academy of Science in San Francisco
π 2010-06-27 00:00 in Public
I had a few hours to kill in San Francisco while Jennifer was volunteering at a wine event, so I went to the California Academy of Science, which was on my list of places to go one day.

To be honest, as a science museum, it's a bit undewhelming: I got through it in about 3H and that included their planetarium show which was more an Imax movie (although it was actually a good one).

For the rest, it was more a museum on animals of many kinds, which was interesting. It was however lacking on sience in general: computers, optics, genetics, medicinal sciences, math, physics, computers and so forth. On the upside their aquarium was good.





the biosphere was reasonably good
the biosphere was reasonably good

for people who don't dive, lots of nice things you'd see during dives
for people who don't dive, lots of nice things you'd see during dives


Anyway, it was an ok few hours, but not the best science museum I've seen in the US, I expected a bit more after having seen some in St Louis, Portland, or other places.

2010/06/14 My house, for sale
π 2010-06-14 00:00 in Public
This replaces my older post about my house going for sale. I had put it couple of years renting it. I never quite wanted to be a landlord but the 2 year wait allowed for the market badness to flush itself somewhat.
Unfortunately, even 2 years later the market has barely recovered and it's really cheap considering it used to be valued $700k, but for tax reasons and not wanting to manage/landlord a house any longer, I decided to put it for sale after my last tenants just left.

I hadn't gotten around to post pictures of my house after it had been staged, so it's done now.

Chen-Chen really did a fantastic job taking the place over and getting it ready for selling in a record time.

A few are picked here:











The virtual tour is sweet (I recommend that for as long as it's up):
http://www.tourfactory.com/623341

and the MLS listing for whatever it's up too: http://www.mlslistings.com/Default.aspx?pp=-1&pg=0&idx=1&l=19$978330$RES

But for posterity, here's the youtube video made from the virtual tour and embedded in this page (this will stay forever since it's a local copy 100% served from my server, gotta be careful with WEB 2.0 nowadays):


After the original post, 2 weeks later, we got several offers and I'm currently in contract with an old couple downgrading from a more expensive house in Palo Alto. I'm kind of relying on their house closing to happen for them to close with me, but they offered more than other folks as a way to make up for it, so I agreed to take the slightly extra risk.

2010/06/06 New Compact High Zoom Camera: Panasonic DMC-ZS7 (TZ10) vs Sony Cybershot DSC-HX5 vs Canon PowerShot SX210 IS vs Samsung HZ35W/WB650 vs Ricoh CX3
π 2010-06-06 00:00 in Public
I have to replace my Panasonic DMC TZ5 camera as I need to buy a water housing, and at $300-ish, I'm not buying one for a 2 year old camera. Also, I had been wishing for a built in GPS in my camera since I am tired of having to geotag my pictures after the fact (it's not that hard, but it's time consuming, see my geotagging page.

I found out that Panasonic had fulfilled my wish and did come out with a new camera that had GPS geotagging built in a compact high zoom camera, and that a few other companies did too. I spent a lot of hours finding and reading all the reviews and deciding which camera would work for me.

Summary and ranking of each camera

  • Panasonic DMC TZ10 (aka ZS7 in the US) is my top pick for the good zoom that starts at 25mm, GPS geotagging with GPS fixes that are kept in the background when the camera is off, and the important diving case availability.
  • Sony Cybershot DSC-HX5 came as a close second: the zoom wasn't as big (only 10X), but its GPS would also log altitude and compass heading and its optics and picture processing are better than the Panasonic. Sony also finally wisened up and added SDHC support instead of their stupid memory sticks. Unfortunately, there are no underwater/diving cases for it and none planned that I could find.
  • Canon PowerShot SX210 IS likely was interesting with its 14X zoom, but it has a stupid pop up flash, non stellar pictures, no GPS, and no underwater/diving case available.
  • Samsung HZ35W/WB650 was an interesting new camera that had a 15X zoom (!), GPS support, but no diving case, bad support from Samsung, substandard picture quality, and is somehow missing an orientation sensor to tag picture orientation (!). Too bad because the bigger battery, lesser OLED screen draw and 15X zoom would have been nice.
  • Ricoh CX3 is last, and I guess least. It comes with a 10X zoom, no underwater/diving case availability, no manual controls and no GPS. You can't even zoom while taking a video. It likely takes fairly good pictures but its lack of features just put it last.
  • Raw notes gathered on each camera

    Panasonic DMC TZ10 (aka ZS7 in the US)

    links and quotes:

  • http://www.cameralabs.com/reviews/Panasonic_Lumix_DMC_TZ10_ZS7
  • http://www.dcresource.com/reviews/panasonic/dmc_zs7-review
  • http://www.trustedreviews.com/digital-cameras/review/2010/02/26/Panasonic-Lumix-DMC-TZ10/p1
  • http://www.amazon.com/Panasonic-DMC-ZS3-Digital-Stabilized-Silver/product-reviews/B001QFZMD8/ref=cm_cr_dp_hist_1?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=0&filterBy=addOneStar

  • "I learned that Panasonic decided to include a restriction in their latest firmware version (1.2) that only allows the camera to operate with one of their $50 batteries."

  • http://www.cameralabs.com/reviews/Panasonic_Lumix_DMC_TZ7_ZS3/verdict.shtml

  • "Panasonic's Intelligent Auto is one of the best on the market, having an uncanny ability to figure out what you're trying to take"
    "In most respects, the ZS7 is better than the ZS3 that it replaces, offering manual controls, a built-in GPS, improved image stabilization, faster autofocus, enhanced image sharpening"
    "That brings us to image quality, which was kind of a let-down. If you keep the ISO low, you'll get pretty nice results from the ZS7 -- for the most part. The camera exposes photos accurately, though it tends to clip highlights easily. Colors look good, as does sharpness, especially if you've got Intelligent Resolution turned on. Purple fringing is automatically removed by the camera, and barrel distortion is removed as well"
  • http://avc-cs.panasonic.net/faq/1033/doc/html/dsc/en/index_dmc_tz10_zs7.html
  • Quick specs/notes:

  • diving case: YES
  • 12X zoom: 25-300mm
  • GPS built in for geotagging BUT only lat and long.
  • fastest GPS aquisition time.
  • zoom during video, infinite video shooting
  • manual controls: yes
  • faulty red eye reduction?
  • Sony Cybershot DSC-HX5

    links and quotes:

  • http://www.dcresource.com/reviews/sony/dsc_hx5v-review
  • http://cameralabs.com/reviews/Sony_Cyber-shot_DSC_HX5

  • "this proprietary approach means you'll be forced to buy potentially expensive accessories from Sony alone. Ultimately we'd have preferred standard USB, TV and HDMI outputs, like its rival, the Panasonic TZ10 / ZS7."

  • http://www.cameralabs.com/reviews/Panasonic_Lumix_DMC_TZ10_ZS7/verdict.shtml

  • "The 1080i video coupled with 10fps burst shooting gives the HX5 two key advantages over the Panasonic, and while it may not display the name of locations on-screen, it does record altitude and compass data. Depending on your requirements, these could outweigh the TZ10 / ZS7's benefits"

  • http://cameralabs.com/reviews/Sony_Cyber-shot_DSC_HX5/verdict.shtml

  • "Moving on, Sony makes a big deal about the low light capabilities of its 'Exmor R' CMOS sensor, claiming high sensitivity and low noise. Unfortunately there was little evidence of superiority in our tests though, with the HX5 suffering from the relatively high levels of noise reduction we've become used-to from Sony with smearing of fine detail. Like most compacts the best results are had below 400 ISO, and side-by-side against the Panasonic TZ10 / ZS7 in our High ISO Noise results page, there was certainly no advantage to the Sony. Sure the HX5's images contained less visible noise, but this again was due to overly aggressive (and non-adjustable) noise reduction rather than a cleaner image. That said, the HX5's unique Handheld Twilight and Anti Motion Blur modes delivered a genuine advantage over shooting in Program at higher sensitivities."

  • http://www.dcresource.com/reviews/sony/dsc_hx5v-review

  • "When you're ready to charge the HX5V's battery, just pop it into the included charger. And then be prepared to wait, as this is one of the slower chargers on the market. A typical charge takes 4.5 hours, with a full charge taking a whopping 5.5 hours. If this becomes a problem, you might want to consider buying the fast charger listed below."

  • http://www.dcresource.com/reviews/sony/dsc_hx5v-review/using

  • "If you compare these images with those from the Panasonic ZS7, you can see the different approaches taken to noise reduction. Panasonic leaves the grainy noise behind, while Sony smudges the heck out of it. I'd rather have the grain and remove the noise myself using something like NeatImage, but that's a subjective thing. Regardless, neither the DSC-HX5V nor the DMC-ZS7 produce very good photos in these situations, especially at ISO 400 and above."

    Quick specs/notes:

  • diving case: NO
  • 10X zoom: 25-250mm
  • GPS with lat, lon, altitude and compass
  • 1080i video, zoom during video
  • 29mn video limit
  • zoom during filming
  • very nice built in panorama compositing by swaying camera left to right
  • smile detection
  • 10fps burst mode for 10 frames
  • does support SDHC (but not SDXC)
  • HDR mode which helps a bit for contrast in low light
  • better picture quality than TZ10:
  • http://cameralabs.com/reviews/Sony_Cyber-shot_DSC_HX5/sample_images.shtml
    http://cameralabs.com/reviews/Panasonic_Lumix_DMC_TZ10_ZS7/sample_images.shtml
    and http://www.dcresource.com/reviews/sony/dsc_hx5v-review/using
    http://www.dcresource.com/reviews/panasonic/dmc_zs7-review/using

    Canon PowerShot SX210 IS

    links and quotes:

  • http://www.dcresource.com/reviews/canon/powershot_sx210-review
  • http://www.trustedreviews.com/digital-cameras/news/2010/02/10/Canon-Launches-New-Compact-Cameras/p2
  • http://www.cameralabs.com/reviews/Canon_PowerShot_SX210_IS/verdict.shtml

  • "PowerShot SX210 IS resolving slightly finer detail than the Lumix TZ10 / ZS7, which in turn slightly out-resolves the Cyber-shot HX5"
    "set the SX210 IS to its 'burst' mode of one frame every 1.4 seconds"
    "Unfortunately, it also has frustrating ergonomics, a weak flash, average performance (at best), and photo quality that could be better."

    Quick specs/notes:

  • diving case: NO
  • 14X zoom: 28-392 mm
  • NO GPS
  • zoom during video
  • stupid flash that pops out for every picture
  • Samsung HZ35W/WB650

    links and quotes:
  • http://www.dpreview.com/news/1001/10011903hz35whz30w.asp
  • http://www.trustedreviews.com/digital-cameras/review/2010/06/03/Samsung-WB650/p1
  • http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/read_opinion_text.asp?prodkey=samsung_hz35w&opinion=45152

  • "GPS is so slow to acquire a signal (even in wide open ground) that it makes it all but useless for giving a location to travel photos. You cannot even store the last position acquired. If I am going to have to use Flickr or Picasa to geo tag my pics I would not have spent on a useless function like GPS." "Contact with Samsung regarding the GPS and maps got no usefiull answer and obviously no interest in users comments/problems."

  • http://www.amazon.com/Samsung-HZ35W-Digital-compact-supported/product-reviews/B0036RBEFE/ref=cm_cr_pr_hist_3?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=0&filterBy=addThreeStar

  • "The camera has no orientation sensor to tell which way you are holding it, so you have to manually rotate all your pictures."

  • http://www.trustedreviews.com/digital-cameras/review/2010/06/03/Samsung-WB650/p3

  • "At lower ISO settings it's certainly not a patch on the superb low-ISO results of the TZ10, but at 400 ISO and higher there's really not much in it. If only Samsung could sort out its image processing, Panasonic and the other manufacturers would be in real trouble."

    Quick specs/notes:

  • diving case: NO
  • 15X zoom: 24-360mm
  • GPS can show location on maps downloaded in sd card
  • zoom during video
  • no orientation sensor for pictures (!)
  • charges the battery in the camera over USB port
  • non standard USB cable
  • big battery and better life with AMOLED screen
  • Ricoh CX3

    links and quotes:
  • http://www.trustedreviews.com/digital-cameras/review/2010/02/23/Ricoh-CX3/p2

  • "Unlike its soon-to-be arch rival the Panasonic TZ10 the CX3 has no manual exposure controls"
  • http://www.trustedreviews.com/digital-cameras/review/2010/02/23/Ricoh-CX3/p4
  • Quick specs/notes:

  • diving case: NO
  • 10.7x zoom: 28-300mm
  • no GPS
  • back illuminated CMOS sensor
  • no zoom during video
  • no manual controls
  • HDR mode which helps a bit for contrast in low light
  • 5fps burst mode

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