Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Posted By Allen at 5:28 AM
We left the lodge from Day 0 early in the morning, and drove to Tarangire National Park. The drive took most of the morning, and we were all still pretty tired from the flight and jet lag. Jenna and I only had to deal with a two hour time difference, but our friends from New Mexico were dealing with a 10 hour time difference, and recovering from 18 hours of flying the previous day. Most of the drive to Tarangire was on tarmac. We didn't know, at the time, that this would be a luxury, and one of the only times we drove on a paved road for the entire trip. We passed a fairly arid landscape dots of settlement and Masai villages on either side of the road. When we arrived at Tarangire, we had a short wait while Adam took care of the paperwork. Once that was done, we headed into the park. We saw some herd animals on the way to the lodge, a single giraffe, a few impala, and a zebra. However, we had to get to the lodge to get checked in. As we made the turn down the long dirt road that lead to our lodge, we came accross our first real site of wildlife in this park. When I say that, I don't mean the first wildlife we saw, but the first moment when we all realized that this was not a big zoo. We stayed at the Tarangire Safari Lodge in their Luxury Tents, and there was a herd of elephant on the grounds. They weren't being kept on the grounds, they just happened to like that spot. We stopped to watch the elephants for awhile, and then drove on to the lodge. The park and the lodge both get their name from the Tarangire river which is a year-round fresh water source in this area. Our lodge was placed on a ridge overlooking the river valley, and it had some really stunning views. We checked into the lodge, found our tents, and ate lunch. While we were eating an enourmous herd of wildebeest and zebra moved to the river to drink. In the early afternoon we left the lodge for our first game drive, or as our guide would say, "wildlife viewing opportunity". We saw some amazing birds like the Superb Starling, male Ostrich, and the African Grey Hornbill. We also saw many fine examples of two of the iconic trees of Africa, the Baobab Tree and the Acacia Tree. There were many highlights that day, but one of the biggest for me was our first sighting of an Olive Baboon. I've always loved primates since my first anthropology class in college, but I had never seen them in the wild. As the sun began to set, we turned around and headed back to the lodge. We had only been out for a few hours, but the entire group was filled with anticipation for what was to come in the following days. There are more pictures from this first day on my Flickr account, and for more on the safari see Africa Safari.
Posted By Allen at 5:11 AM
We flew from London to Amsterdam, and then took a direct flight from Amsterdam to Kilamanjaro Airport. The flight was uneventfull but long. There are very few flights from Europe to Tanzania, so our only choice was KLM. We knew that we were at the right gate because all of a sudden we were surrounded by people with zip-off trousers, safari shirts, and hiking boots. Once we landed in Tanzania, we got our bags, and met our guide Adam. We learned that there would be one other couple in our safari group, who turned out to be Scott and Kathy from New Mexico. Once we found them we drove a short distance to a lodge for the night and crashed. The first night in Africa was uneventful, and we didn't really see anything because it was dark. Adam made us feel welcome, and we instantly liked him. The next day was when the fun would really begin. For more on our safari see African Safari.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Posted By Allen at 9:22 AM
For the last 15 days, I've been in Tanzania, Africa on an very nice vacation. Jenna and I got back to London this morning, and are getting unpacked and settled into our flat again. I took about 1100 pictures while we were on safari, and have just started going through them. I'm really pleased with what I've seen so far, and can't wait to share the pictures and stories from Africa with you. I'll probably go through a 100 pictures a day for the next few weeks, and will be posting them to my Flickr account as I go. I'll also be posting pointers here with a narrative. For more on our safari see African Safari.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
Posted By Allen at 1:32 PM
I'm going on vacation starting tomorrow morning, actually my vacation started yesterday, but I'm going to be out of the country starting tomorrow morning. Jenna and I are headed to Tanzania for a safari. I'll be back at the end of October, and will have a lot of pictures to share. I'm going to try to keep my twitter feed updated while I'm there, but don't know what cell phone reception will be like in the Serengeti. Updates from the safari:
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Posted By Allen at 12:49 AM
Lifehacker asks about Guerrilla office tactics. I have one I can share right now, which is how I cut down on all that bacn coming from different social networking sites. I have a filter in Gmail with the following in "Has the Words":
from:(facebookmail.com OR linkedin.com OR flickr.com) OR subject:([Flickr])Whenever I start getting mail from a new social networking site, I just add it to this filter. This mail is labeled as Bacn and skips my inbox.
Posted By Allen at 12:31 AM
Sony is updating it's eBook line this month, and one of the features is a new USB based mass storage interface. This means that if you plug the book into your computers USB port it will appear as a drive just like a USB flash drive. This is great news, because the USB mass storage profile is well defined and well understood in most operating systems. USB mass storage devices are probably some of the most common USB devices, and they work almost universally on modern operating systems (Windows, Mac, Linux, etc...). I think this is the right approach for any data-based USB device, and I hope that manufacturers move to ditch their proprietary protocols and file formats. Last week, I bought a USB GPS data logger for my upcoming trip to Tanzania. This thing is basically a USB Drive with a GPS. However, the manufacturer doesn't support the Mac in it's proprietary protocol, so I'm forced to interact with the device through a version of Windows. This doesn't really make any sense. Why can't the manufacturer just support the USB mass storage profile and write to a CSV file on the drive. That way, anyone who wants to use their hardware can just copy that CSV file off the device and easily use the data. There are several benefits to this approach beyond the instant support for all operating systems. The manufacturer can still provide software for the device to add value, but the open source community can also provide software, filling in the areas that the manufacturer doesn't care to. Matt Cutts, a fellow Googler, recently wrote an article about his favorite pedometer and came to a similar point:
If you’re not willing/able to document your protocol, here’s a suggestion for your next iteration: make the pedometer look like a little flash drive, and create a special text document on the pseudo-drive with the user’s step data. Then anyone could read their data, regardless of the type of computer they used.I completely agree, and hope that device manufacturers will follow Sony's lead, and start to do this.
Posted By Allen at 12:17 AM
Sony has announced a new version of it's digital book the PRS-505, this looks to be a minor update, but has some significant improvements. First on the list is memory expansion through SD card in addition to the Memory Stick that was already supported. Also, according to the press release, the book will move to a USB-based mass storage interface. I'm hoping that this means Sony is ditching it's proprietary protocol to upload books, and instead going with a simpler approach of making the book appear as a drive on most computers. This should also give it some level of Mac compatibility. The controls have been redesigned, but from the pictures it looks to me like it is still a dedicated right-handed interface. As a leftie I'd prefer a universal interface that is comfortable for use in either hand. Finally the new reader will be about $300 when it ships this month. [via engadget]
Monday, October 1, 2007
Posted By Allen at 5:10 AM
A great parody of the Apple Think Different ad highlighting the applications that were developed for the iPhone over the first few months it was released before Apple slammed the door on independent developers.
Posted By Allen at 1:30 AM
Last week the Freakonomics blog interviewed Arthur Frommer with questions that they had gathered from their readers. Frommer is the man who started the Frommers travel guide series (Europe on Five Dollars a Day) and I've always enjoyed hearing / reading his comments. He is excited about travel and discovering new cultures. His energy comes through in every interview I've ever read with him. I also love the incredible candor he displays in answering questions, here are two examples from the interview:
Q: When you travel these days, do you think it’s better to lie and say you’re Canadian?
The first time I heard Arthur Frommer was in a Rick Steves Podcast, where they spent about an hour talking. That interview goes into more depth than the question and answer format on the Freakonomics blog, and is well worth the time to listen.
Q: Can a woman travel to Samarra, Iraq and find a safe, decent place to stay for a month or two?
Posted By Allen at 1:11 AM
I just got an invitation to try out FriendFeed, and I think it's going to be a great service. FriendFeed fills a niche that I've wanted for awhile. It is basically a feed aggragator so that you can combine all of the feeds from your blog, flickr, twitter, Google Reader Shared Stuff, etc... In a single interface. The service currently supports aggrigation from about 20 or so different sites right now, and you can see my FriendFeed embedded at the end of the post (click through if you are reading this in a feed reader). The other aspect of FriendFeed is social. You can find / subscribe to your friends in the application to keep track of all of their stuff as well. It has some of the basic social-network discovery features like, email address, and recommendations. It doesn't have the "slurp your gmail contacts" feature that so many other social networking sites have, yet. My favorite feature in the site is called, "imaginary friends" which allows you to subscribe to a friends feed, even if they aren't a user of the system. There are some rough edges, but this is to be expected from a newly launched application. I think it's a great start, and am looking forward to playing with this more over the next few days.