So many online groups, so little time. Flickr, Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

I’ve started taking a look at Jaiku. I’m always up for trying something new, but admittedly find it a bit overwhelming to have: a blog, flickr, twitter, myspace, facebook, friendster (ok, so I tried it), multiply, vox, regular chat accounts, not to mention the offline life.

So I’m feeling as though I need to stick to a few very solid communities, groups, or technologies. What does Jaiku have over the others? What does Facebook have over Myspace? I’m still not caught up with twitter, I feel as though it’s something that could be put to better use than what I see many people using it for (does everyone really need to know that you’re sitting on the couch in your boxers watching the 10th straight episode of Prison Break with a wicked hangover?).

Additionally, wireless ‘net isn’t widely available throughout Jakarta, and our handphone network technology / price point isn’t up to the level (in my opinion) that entices me to even bother using a smartphone over here – thereby reducing my interest even further in many of these groups.

Are there other sites out there worth checking out? Are there other uses for things like Vox/Twitter/Jaiku that would be more inspiring? Perhaps sticking only to music/movie/book reviews? Other type of updates which would be more useful to others? Bantu donk!

Random Randomness

I’m sorry for being so sporadic with posting lately. This time of the year, my workload triples for about two months. Any time spent blogging is guilt ridden with, “damn I should be doing ____ instead.” Since I can’t crank out any decent photos or writing at the moment, I’ll leave you with a few random bits.

This is awesome – a homemade wi-fi signal booster. One problem with the new MacBook Pro is the Airport signal strength; it’s actually less able to pick up signals than Novita’s MacBook. Bummer huh? I believe it’s related to the aluminum casing vs the MacBook’s plastic. (less, umm, penetration?). I definitely will give this a try.

Been really getting into Adobe Lightroom. I think it’s got the potential to bring back more of the fun of photo editing. Many tools are actually much easier and quicker to use than Photoshop. I have Aperture installed on my Mac as well but have yet to put it through the paces. Here are a few Lightroom tutorials for those of you interested:
Inside Lightroom
Lightroom Journal
Lightroom Extra
Lightroom Killer Tips

I’ve been finally getting some of my dozen or so mini-DV tapes onto my hard drive but it’s sooo time consuming (and eats up space like crazy). If anyone’s keen on learning more about getting your home videos onto your hard drive: ask metafilter has some decent advice.

As you may have read, my sister is coming to stay for a month! I haven’t seen her in three years, so I’m pretty happy. Unfortunately, I don’t have much time to take her around except for weekends. Any ideas for day trips / weekend getaways / Jakarta jaunts?

I’ll be selling prints of my photography at the Jakarta Highland Games 2007 – more news to come. You think thousands of drunkards are a good market for me?

Ok, back to work once again. Guilt has settled in like the thick pollution outside my window.

Warning – odd post ahead. Coincidence? Chance? Reverse Deja vu?

To Novita’s great frustration, I’m a perfected skeptic. Living in a country that is embedded with a foundation of belief in the supernatural, that’s a hard perspective to view things from. Whenever the cheezy tv programs show “ghosts” (otherwise known as lousy video tricks), I simply laugh in amazement that anyone would be drawn to their crap.

Admittedly, I’m very open minded. I will listen to anyone’s perspective, and enjoy reading up on a plethora of subjects despite not necessarily following their ideas. I have yet to find valid reasons to support a belief in many of the ‘oddities’ that people believe in (ghosts, psychics, 6th sense, etc).

With that said, I’d like to share something with you. Perhaps you can offer this skeptic some piece of mind.

Last night I had a dream. In this dream, a friend and I were viewing a photo of a man. I cannot recall if it was on a screen, newsprint, or magazine. At any rate, my friend and I were trying to recall the name of the man in the photo. Both of us knew him, somehow, from somewhere, but neither of us could remember his name. At one point in the dream, a flash of remembrance kicked in and I said to my friend, “His name is Matthews.” But somehow I wasn’t convinced of that myself. Searching again, I finally realized my mistake, “Matthews” was his last name, not his first. After this, it finally clicked; this was a photo of Jacob Matthews – a guy I went to high school with. The dream ended at that point, or at least nothing more I can recall.

I have not seen or spoken with this guy in 12 years. I was friends with him, but not close. Our mutual friends are far and few – I don’t keep in contact with them either. Dreams are odd like that, long last memories can surface at any time. This was one only a few times in the past 12 years that I can remember dreaming about anyone from my high school.

This morning, after breakfast I checked my email. My inbox had a “‘Making it in Taiwan’ would like to be added as one of your friends!” from I’m not a huge myspace user, so it’s not that often that people add me anymore.

I checked out his profile; there was no name on his profile, so I checked how and why I’d know this guy who was adding me as a friend. I found the name of my high school and realized that’s the connection. Since it’s been 12 years, many people look a bit different, so naturally I couldn’t place his face to a name. He only had one photo and it wasn’t drawing any names. I didn’t know of any of my old friends living in Taiwan, and nothing else in his profile caught my eye as being familiar.

Then it clicked. This was Jacob Matthews.

“Ladies and gentleman, we’ve just lost cabin pressure.”

I have no words to explain how odd this felt. I emailed him right away just to make sure that it was him. Yep.

Like I said, it’s been 12 years and I wasn’t even that close to the guy in school.

I truly have no explanation, this seems to go beyond the “watching tv while reading a book and the same word is heard that’s being read” type of thing. Go ahead, run the numbers on this one:

For those of you statistically minded, put together my variables, I’m sure I’m missing some:

12 years = 4,380 days / nights / potential dreams
200+ = people in my graduating class
10 or less = times I’ve dreamed about anyone from h.s. in the past decade
4 = hours from dreaming about this to the actual time I opened my email

My head is spinning. If any of you can offer this critic some explanation, I’m right here waiting. In the meantime, I’m gonna go watch Fight Club one more time and see if Tyler has some thoughts.

Why do you blog?

A very nice communications student from Sweden wrote me, asking permission to ‘interview’ me with questions relating to blogging for her Masters thesis. I thought I’d share some of my answers.

Please excuse the pretentious sounding answers.

What factors determine whether something is worth blogging about for you?

It completely depends upon my mood and the events surrounding me. Living in Indonesia, nothing is static for long. The culture, people, and environment are in a constant state of change. Blogging about these events can become overwhelming or infinitely interesting depending on the perspective you choose to view them from. When I first started blogging in 2002, everything was so fresh and different. My home in the U.S. is quite possibly physically the farthest place on the globe from Jakarta, so every moment was like an awakening of the senses. I found it easy to be inspired.

As time went on, it was quite easy to rant and complain about the struggles of being a foreigner in a foreign land; further offering blogging material. I think after a period, many expats settle into a routine or become more accustomed to living overseas – it was in that period that I found it difficult to come up with a reason to write. Now I’ve eased into a natural state of blogging only when I want; instead of feeling as though I have to post on a daily basis, I think it’s easier to keep going if you’re only posting when something is worth sharing.

Do you blog about what happens to you only, or about what happens to others and in other places?

Without trying to sound pretentious, I’d say the majority of my writing is a very subjective and at times introspective. There are certainly other bloggers in Indonesia who cover the political happenings and the news. They do a fantastic job with that; so I see no reason to try to match what they produce. There are many times when I’d love to share more about my personal life; it seems so odd to keep things separate when some visitors have been dropping by for over four years. However, Jakarta has its share of oddballs and those who may take advantage of that information. So whereas I may blog from a subjective point of view, I don’t share as much about my personal life as I wish I could.

In your opinion, do you think more about the things you blog about, than people who do not blog?

Definitely not. A blog is simply a podium from which to share opinions. Those who blog about a subject are, in my opinion, not necessarily any more aware, thoughtful, or informed than those who choose not to blog. Many may disagree, but blogging about a subject is not an accurate measurement of a person’s wisdom or intellect; it’s simply an avenue from which people may express their thoughts on a particular subject.

On another note, often those who choose to blog about a narrow field of interest (vs a general blog) are more informed about that particular topic; perhaps they have a passion for it and are simply sharing that passion with others. In this case, perhaps they have given that particular area much more thought than the average person and in that case it holds true.

Does it matter who reads your blog?

It has never mattered how many people read my blog. I’ve never taken the steps to dramatically increase my traffic. I have some wonderful readers who visit regularly, some of whom have been doing so for many years. I receive a continual stream of supportive comments and emails; those are the people who make this blogging thing worthwhile. I would much rather have a solid base of interested readers than a huge influx of people who are just skimming the surface.

If you have a hope or a motivation that your blog should do something, what is it that you would like it to do?

Someday I’ll leave this country; I hope my blog becomes a reflection from which I may gaze upon my time spent here in fond remembrance. Indonesia is in the news so often for negative events and problems, that I truly hope that my words and photographs may offer a different perspective. My hope is to share Indonesia‚Äôs vitality, beauty, and the simple allure of this breathtaking country with the rest of the world.

Notebook and Laptop Screens: Matte vs Glossy and Macbook Pro vs Macbook Screens

A crash course in modern Mac notebook screens:

With the advent of the Macbook, Apple switched from a matte screen to glossy for the Macbook line. Many users welcome this change, as many people find that the colors are more saturated (blacks more black, etc), contrast may be higher (not always a good thing), and for things like movies and games, the screen may be more vibrant. The downside is that the glossy screens can double as a mirror in the wrong lighting (meaning anything other than indoors or with strong back lighting). Additionally, many designers, photographers, and other visual artists feel the glossy screens present unrealistic colors, overly contrasted images, and photographs cannot be accurately matched to the final print.

Options: glossy or matte?


Apple surely has their reasons for switching: perhaps it’s cheaper to produce, maybe typical consumers (vs professionals) prefer them in market testing. (many pc notebooks have switched to glossy).

The good news is that Macbook Pro users have the option to choose one or the other. If you’re a geek like me, you’ll do your homework before choosing something so important. Think about it; you drop 2 grand or more on a laptop with all the bells and whistles, but the screen is what you interact with for the rest of the life of the notebook. However, even doing the typical exhausting research doesn’t yield a clear answer. Visual artists tend to present passionate arguments for both sides.

As I currently use a beautiful 20″ iMac to edit my photographs, I’m more accustomed to the matte screen for photography. However, I’m typing this on a Macbook with the glossy screen right now in an outdoor cafe. I have a bright pane of windows surrounding me on all sides, and have no problems at all with the Macbook for general use.

Confusing conundrum: Macbook screen brighter than the Pro?

I was in the Apple store last night and did some basic comparisons. In all fairness, I was comparing the Macbook to the Macbook Pro instead of two Macbook Pros side by side. Adjusting the brightness to its fullest and bringing up the same desktop background, I noticed something peculiar. The Macbook was displaying details in shadows and darker areas that the Macbook Pro wasn’t even showing. I did this many times with multiple backgrounds. The Pro was a matte screen and was the core duo model not the core2 duo. Perhaps the core2 duo model’s screen has been updated to a higher output? I know the glossy screen tends to seem brighter, but this was a case where there was actually a very big difference in details showing up – and this concerns me as a photographer. Does anyone have experience with a Macbook Pro matte or glossy? Do you regret your decision one way or another? Have you had any problems with the reports of “graininess” in your screen?

Reality: How critical is all this?

Now, in all reality, a photographer / designer / visual artist probably shouldn’t be editing photos for production work on a laptop screen. There’s no laptop screen on the market that can compare with a pro level screen at this time. However, both Macs can easily output to another monitor, making the glossy/matte decision much less critical in many cases. On the flip side, not everyone can afford to get into a nice external monitor and most people will find no qualms editing photos on either of the screens.

To make matters more confusing, rumors have been circulating that Apple will be introducing LED lit screens into their notebooks sometime in the near future.

From AppleInsider:

While pricer than CCFLs, LED technology is more efficient at distributing lighting evenly across the entire display surface and offers an increase in color saturation. According to a white paper from Cree, a backlight solutions provider expected to provide its LED technology to Apple, LED-based backlights also consume less power, run cooler, and last longer than CCFLs.

For end users, the new technology translates into improved notebook battery life and displays that will maintain their initial levels of brightness longer into their respective life-cycles. Come this spring, LED-lit displays will also deliver a more vivid canvas for the various software user interface enhancements and animation techniques that will be included with Mac OS X Leopard.

To wrap things up, the computer’s processor may be the brains of a notebook, but the screen is certainly the beauty. It’s not something trivial to those who care about the quality their work presents. For road warriors, traveling artists and photographers, the notebook screen may be their only screen; often it needs to meet a number of demands under ever-changing environments. When deciding on a notebook, it’s not a time to make quick decisions; nor is it recommended to order something like a Macbook Pro in matte or glossy without actually seeing and comparing them first. (by the way, if you order a MBP it generally will be matte by default; in Indonesia you have to pay more for the glossy and they’re never on display). Whether one is better than the other ultimately boils down to personal preference and what your needs may be. Make the decision only after careful consideration; buyer’s remorse after spending two or three grand is not a pleasant thing.

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Is this site too slow to load?

Indcoup was kind enough to let me know that is very slow to load via his connection. I realize many of you are on absurdly quick connections in other countries, but here in Indonesia we’re ecstatic with 128kbps for $60/month (since there are no other options in our area other than dial-up).

I have a feeling the youtube videos I posted from the floods are slowing this site down for many of you. I can also limit the number of posts on the front page to a smaller number (although most first time visitors are notorious for never venturing off the front page).

I know this site probably needs a revamping of it’s design, but if it ain’t broke…

Any thoughts?


Wanna hear something ironic?

I have about 130GB of music and a 60GB iPod loaded to the gills. That’s equivalent to listening to music straight for months without ever hearing the same song twice.

Somehow I’m

I need some new inspiration, fresh artists, or old artists yet undiscovered. (or maybe I just need to hit “shuffle”)

Any ideas?

Aduh! Minta maaf!

I’m sorry guys, but I can’t post any photos or write much for the next few days. My hard drive decided to move on to greener pastures; taking a week’s worth of work with it. I now have to play catch-up for the next few days. I’ve been working pretty much non-stop, 15 hour days to get caught up from the data I lost.

No gym, eating delivered food, and losing a tan despite basking in the glow of fluorescent lighting isn’t my ideal weekend/week. It’s enough to make me miss working construction.