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29 July, 2013

Photosynth…is here

29 October, 2008

For those who are not aware, the long awaited photosynth arrived a little while ago. This adds a step change to the way people see and use digital photography.  Not only is it there for taking artistic pictures but by combining sets of pictures, an immersive experience can be had.  This particular technology comes from the microsoft labs and has been in development for a few years.  Now it is here, it is everything it promised to be.  Pictures are uploaded and are aligned in three dimensional space using an algorithm that finds points of texture in the photo that are matched in others.  From this a point cloud is built up enabling you to view the scene eerily from an angle not taken in the original photographs. As an engineer I see huge potential for these sort of photo point clouds should microsoft make this spatial information available.  Even for a price it would easily compete with the most sophisticated laser scanning technology out there.  Sure it may not be as accurate but anyone can do it and over huge distances.

Have a go yourself and check out this ‘synth’ by National Geographic.  Grab the the donut with your mouse and drag it around to see the scene from different angles.  Hold down Ctrl to view the point cloud.   You may have to download the web application it needs first… it will tell you where to go.  There are plenty of great synths that have been created aside from this as well – you could spend hours on it.

You can check out my own synth of a dam I visited last year… we were not able to get close to the rock face at the end of the spillway but if you can find it in the synth you can see that the face is well defined in the 3D point cloud.

Vandalising free speech

29 October, 2008

Although I hate seeing all the signage up during elections and don’t particularly like to see tax dollars go to support advertising to ‘put the party back in political party’, I appreciate free speech.  What political sign vandals don’t realise is that they are paying for the signage they destroy, and at the same time are making a statement about free speech.  If I was a National supporter, to see a labour sign defaced and a national sign left untouched would mean that there was a national supporter out there that I wouldn’t want to share a party with. If your not happy with free speech and all it’s trappings then move yourself to one of the many dictatorships.  It’s kind of sad that people don’t realise that by having their ‘say’ they are not only vandalising signs but the right to speak.  If you want to protest – go and vote or write your own blog and stop trampling on others right to speech and property.

Eating well

25 September, 2008

Currently in Penang Malaysia.  Eating well and staying with family who are showing us around – and by that I mean taking us to every single place where good food is to be found.  I will blog more about the trip when I am back in October but will leave you with a few photos for now…  Durian buying from a street seller and Hokkien Mee hawker… mmmm


1 September, 2008

Well, I’m working hard to push up the time and distance I do on my bike in anticipation of the round taupo challange… Here is this weekends ride.

This was the longest I’ve done so far (90km) and have been using my N95 as a tracking device along with a piece of software kindly developed by Nokia – Sports Tracker. They also sent me a prototype bike mount for my phone so that I can track my speed real time. Here is a snap shot – the height of the track above the ground is relitive to the speed.

Download the GE file here… there was a small hiccup around the back of Howick where I accidently had pressed pause and so didn’t pick up a section…

Back again

30 August, 2008

Well, it’s been a while since I last posted.  I even thought of moving back to blogger but am continually hampered by each blog sites limitations.  They are free however and until I fork out the money for my own I suppose I will have to stick with it…

So, alot has happened since I last posted.  I made it back from the Philippines in one piece and with my health intact (unlike last time).

I’m engaged to a wonderful girl and am heading over to Malaysia to meet family in a few weeks.  I’ve even found a wedding venue for march next year.

I’m moving flats – don’t know where yet.

I’ve entered the round lake taupo bike challange (we call it that cause we are not going to win).

I’ve brought an Nokia N95.

I’m an uncle all over again and have found out that I’m going to be one again in around 6 months!

I’ll keep you posted.

(And keep this blog up to date a little more often).

Starfish and others

23 June, 2008

This was a cool starfish.  I borrowed a friends camera and had to dive down to get a close up… about 20 to 30cm across.  Apparently a horned sea star  or ‘chocolate chip’ sea star- I have just gotten the photos from his camera so here it is.

A large white fish..


We found a cool ‘brain’ coral as well – this was around the exposed side of the island so there was a little more sand being kicked up and the water was less clear but you can see what I mean.

I also found some blue sea star and some little mudskippers on the mangroves around one side of the island.


The container yard

21 June, 2008

I’m living in a container.  Yes, it has come to that.  Of course containers potentials are much maligned and like any building it all depends on the ammenities.  Here, insulation is not an issue and with an airconditioner there is no problem there.  The floor is tiled, and a section is walled off with a toilet, shower and basin.  If only there were hot water. 
Of course there is a reason why I’m living in a container. The Sibulan Hydro Electric Project is just around the corner and with the nearest hotels around an hours drive away, a site ‘camp’ was needed. This one is luxurious compared to the contractors camp just next door where it is more like army accomodation with bunks in big halls.

Sibulan Camp – The offices are in the foreground (one behind as well) with the containers behind those and the backdrop of Mt Sibulan.

The containers at night…

Weird Bird…

21 June, 2008

 Strangest bird I have ever seen.  It’s some sort of horn bill and the local pet at the resort we went to.  It hops. I’ll add a video when my connection is better. Find out what it is and I owe you.


20 June, 2008

Managed to get away for a couple of days a couple of weekends ago (is it that long already?).  We chose a place called Mati which is around 4 to 5hrs drive from Davao.  The plan was to stay in a resort and do some swiming and sightseeing and of course generally relax.  It was a mission.   Here is a hit by hit retelling. 

Spent alot of free time in the leadup looking for transportation details, resort details.  The infallible Internet is of course only as good as the information people put on it.  In this case none.  Oh well, we had a few photos and mentions of resorts to go to so that was enough, and we could always stay in a hotel if needed.  I got up at a reasonable time on Saturday morning and decided to go over to the Davao port in a last attempt to find a snorkel and mask as I had been unsuccessful in the mall the day before. 

I found a taxi, which like most of the others was hanging on by just a thread.  Most taxi’s here are Korean kia’s – never maintained.  The clutch has all but gone in most of them and it’s all the driver can do to keep them from stalling…  The taxi driver commented on my lack of pronunciation of my ‘r’s.  This wasn’t the first time as the major english influence here is American so my fake American accent is better understood than my own.  A muslim taxi driver too so we had a good talk.

The dive shop i found wasn’t much but had some good equipment in it and I managed to bargain the guy down a reasonable amount (p1500) – to the disgust of an american who was also in the shop;  ‘God! you bargin like a Filipino!’.  I take it as a compliment and the shopkeeper was laughing so I said ‘oh sorry I only have 1400 cash on me…’ 

 Took my taxi to the hotel were some work colleges were staying and we had a coffee then headed to the bus station.  While there I managed to find the bus schedule. It’s nowhere except at the station.  That was frustrating before we discovered that the buses basically went everywhere every half hour for most of the day.  It’s not New Zealand.  People live here. 

After some deliberation we decided to go to the mall in the hope that we could hire a van and get there a little quicker.  So the saga began.  We managed to negotiate to hire a van and got a driver and conductor to go with it for a round trip to Mati all for P5,000 which comes out to around NZD 150.00.  We settled for a non aircon van which was fine – particularly when your moving.  So off we went or so we thought.  A quick stop at the conductors house to load up the back of the van with furniture and our lead on the bus was gone.  

It was easy going after that and the roads were reasonable, switching between concrete and rutted ashphelt.   Beautiful too, with plantations of coconuts and bananas or mango. 

We stopped at a small canteen to have a bite to eat.  We wound our way over a range of hills then down into the land surrounding Pajuda bay.  We arrived in Mati where the driver picked up his girlfriend and her friend and then headed out to find the resort and hopefully have a place to stay.  They all assured us that this resort was definitely the best…. well, what did they know?  They definitely didn’t know that it was 45min out of Mati township on rutted dirt roads and by the time we had gone ten min, they were asking for more money.  ‘We’ll see’

We finally made it to the Cinco-Masao Beach Resort which in the western sense was not a resort at all but really just some beach houses on poles in the sea.  Very picturesque but only the basics.  After looking around for someone to show us where to go we found some rooms above a sort of function room at the end of the Jetti.  They were fine and going for only P300 per night. 
We got organised and went for a swim in the sea around the resort.  It was full of seaweed here and full of starfish and kina.  We made friends with a couple of others who were swimming and joined them eating fresh kina.

After dinner listening to the karaoke we got a large bottle of beer and went up to the balcony and talked until we thought it time to get to bed.

Evening brought a blustery storm and torrential rain – meaning I got a full 2hrs sleep and got up at around 4:30 to take a look at the sunrise.  People were already swimming as the water was a little warmer than the wind chill and of course no-one came prepared for cold weather.  We had breakfast then got on the boat we had organised at around 6:30 and headed off to do some Island hopping.

It would be great to be able to speak tagalog but we didn’t.  Apparently we had only paid to go to one island and of course as soon as we arrived everything cost something – 300 for a seat – 50 admission to the island – 150 per fish for lunch etc.  The people were nice though and there was some nice coral and fish off the beach.   I bartered through someone who spoke better english to get agreement on a trip to the main island in the bay – Pujada Island.  No one lives on this one so it seemed more appealing to me.  We got out there and spent some time walking around and had a couple of swims.  It was hot! The water was as clear as I have ever seen it and the sand sloped down to a swathe of sea grass then dove off into the bay.  There were 0.5m starfish browsing around in the grass which I dove down to to get a photo…  We found a really amazing ‘brain’ coral and some really interesting amphibious fish in the mangroves on the other side of the island.

By the time we headed back to the resort we were all quite tired.   The van turned up while we were having lunch and we left the bargining to later – they seemed happy enough.   Of course what we didn’t realise was that they had figured out a way to make it worth their while… pick up more passengers.  Of course as soon as they pulled into the depo we figured out what was going on but came to an agreement on money and passengers.  Although I would have preferred noone we settled on two extras and were on our way.   It’s always hard when you can’t communicate.   The agreement I thought we had reached was that if they picked up extras then no extra money… good old richard though (work colleague) felt bad though and we paid them an extra P500.  LOL

Got back after a long trip and the shower at the hotel had never felt better.  Plenty of extra detail that I skipped of course but as always here it’s never straight forward and never boring!