Entries for December, 2008

Just got back from Big Sur - the final drive down was a whopping 12 hours (forgot everybody was driving back this weekend) - I hit traffic in every conceivable place... trying to leave Big Sur, all alone the 101, then all around LA, then around SD as well.

Anyways, I think I'll be largely disappointed with the photos I took once I load them all on my computer - I was mostly active midday (which means the sun was way too bright and washed out any good photos). (I may also break my own rule of doing some post-production work in Photoshop with these photos)

Anyways, this one is from the drive up Friday night:

More to come as I get a chance to sift through them.

Update: I ended up pruning the whole collection down to 24 tonight and I've posted them up at http://roykim.net/photos/big-sur/

They turned out pretty decent, actually!


Posted by roy on December 1, 2008 at 02:44 AM in Photography | 7 Comments

Ok, so first off, I want to thank everybody for the birthday wishes. I'm one of those strange people who like to try to hide my birthdate, but some of you still manage to wish me happy birthday. I actually think I got the most wishes this year (thanks in part to my workplace - I tried once to remove my birthdate from the company calendar, but failed). Thank you much!

I can now rent a car without paying jacked up prices! Yay! The next age milestone I have to look forward to is 59 1/2, when I can start putting pulling (what an embarassing typo) out what remains of my Roth IRA without paying taxes (ooooh). Yay, life.

Now, onto a more serious topic. One of my friends (*COUGH JENNIFER COUGH*) recently went to England for Thanksgiving break. While at Stonehenge, guess who she ran into?


And you know what infuriates me?! She didn't even TRY to hook me up with her!

How hard would it have been to be like, "Oh, Rachel, I love your work! Can I get a picture with you? Great, thanks! By the way, I know this AWESOME guy - you'd make the cutest couple! Can I pass him your contact information? You should totally marry him."


P.S. I thought Jennifer was pulling my leg until she provided picture proof - dag it!

Posted by roy on December 1, 2008 at 09:38 PM in Foolishness | 7 Comments

taken from my window tonight: (this was no accident)

Posted by roy on December 3, 2008 at 01:51 AM in San Diego | 1 Comments

goodness gracious, i love meatloaf. i should really learn how to make it one of these days. i'd be in blissful heaven ALL THE TIME.

Posted by roy on December 3, 2008 at 10:46 PM in Ramblings | Add a comment

the insomnia is back in full force. awesome.

Posted by roy on December 4, 2008 at 03:36 AM in Personal | 1 Comments

Wow, be prepared to be amazed at the awesomeness of the people in my life.

At our weekly poker game, I was surprised with:

That is right. That is a Guitar Hero birthday cake. Made from SCRATCH. Bow down to the awesomeness that is Damien, Guerric, and Jessica.

Here is me feeling SUPER awkward while everybody actually sang happy birthday:

Notice the poker chips, cards, money, beers, and the cake. This is an incredibly context-rich photograph.

A better shot to show how accurate the cake is:

That is really friggin' impressive.

I'm pretty stunned at all this... I totally didn't expect anything at all! Thanks so much for the cake, guys!

There are some photos I got from Damien on the making of the cake. I'll post them shortly ... it's pretty amazing how they did it.

My darling little sister, a soon-to-be awesome reporter, also gave me the sweetest birthday gift ever: (click the image to read the text - it's hilarious)

One thing I'd like to note: I'm not 5'8". I'm 5'10"! But I am as awesome as that article says. The quotes from Aaron are friggin' hilarious too. And for any of you jerks (*COUGH OLIVER COUGH*) my sister is not attractive at all. So stay away.

Posted by roy on December 5, 2008 at 01:15 AM in Ramblings, MindTouch | 9 Comments

With the sky promising a soft sunset, I decided to try to get another shot of the San Diego skyline with the new fish-eye lens. So I packed up two lens and headed out the door.

Got on the 5, headed down to Coronado, found some nice parking, and then picked myself a nice spot on the (smallest) beach ever. Set-up the tripod, switched to the 24-85mm lens (just to start off). Screwed on the ND filter and a circular polarizer (longer exposures would let me "paint" the cloud; the winds were moving them along fast enough it would matter). Plugged in the remote trigger, set all my settings (ISO + WB), switched into aperture value and set the proper exposure.

Now for a test shot.

First exposure with the remote trigger... *Click*.

The preview pops up for a second - promising!

Then a message: "No CF card."

Well, great. My mind zooms back home and I see the CF card by my desk.

I search my bag to see if I still have my 16MB backup (yes, I have a 16MB CF card). No luck.

*smacks forehead*

. . .

By the way, I've been looking at more lens - if I only had about $5K for the new Mark II 5D with a macro lens and a tilt shift lens. (But apparently you can recreate most tilt-shift effects, particularly the narrow dof in Photoshop which may have to serve my purposes until I can afford the TS lens - I'm particularly interested in those shots which make everything seem like miniature toys).

Regarding the Mark II 5D, this blog post says

In the department of “just because we can”, the engineers threw in the capability of capturing 1080p HDTV video.  My friends who work with professional studio equipment say that the Canon 5D Mark II produces quality comparable to $50,000 TV station cameras.

Holy crap. Are you serious?! This would be perfect for all those little short movies that always bounce around in my head.

The reason a tilt-shift interests me is cause you totally distort pictures to look like they're miniature playsets. I ran into the work of Vincent Laforet who used that effect here:

Of course, you can fake that effect (maybe he fakes it to start, who knows) with Photoshop, as I've (sort of) done with this picture (in about 10 minutes) that Corey took:

Posted by roy on December 6, 2008 at 11:13 PM in Photography | 5 Comments

As much as I love Amazon S3, it's not quite as price-effective as i'd like it to be.

For example, this number has been creeping upwards lately (much to my concern):

Note that this is just my storage costs - it doesn't factor in my server costs. Given the fact that Tabulas is a free project (for which I should really start collecting some money again shortly), paying close to $700/month isn't ideal. To that end, I've decommissioned one of the extra servers and trying to figure out a way to reign in the storage costs.

So today, I took the first pass at this by writing a short PHP wrapper script around images - you'll notice images are being served from images.tabulas.co - this is running locally on this machine. What it does is copy the image from S3 and then server it from the primary server. I'm sending along Last-Modified and Etag headers, so I can quickly send out 304s if necessary. This should begin to limit the number of times clients hit S3 directly.

One thing I need to do is write an update script to retrieve metadata for all files - a lot of the older images are missing key pieces of information (Content-type and content-length); those are still being 303-ed back to S3.

Looking at the more detailed usage statistics, images account for about 6 GB/traffic per day - it's *files* which come in roughly 10x that amount (ouch!). So I guess the next step will be to apply this concept to files.

One of the side effects of these changes is it'll allow me to actually set permissions on the files themselves - currently, like with many other consumer sites, friends-only statuses do not apply to images themselves, so if you got an image, you could just pass the URL directly. This'll help towards that.

Posted by roy on December 7, 2008 at 05:17 PM in Web Development, Tabulas | 1 Comments

Check out the hourly graph for December on S3 usage:

Note the uptrend that never triggered around the 170th hour. Yay!

Posted by roy on December 8, 2008 at 12:48 PM in Tabulas | Add a comment

I have the best friends ever ... take this for example: (note the timestamps)

Oliver's Tabulas is high comedy - you should really read it if you have nothing better to do. Like this post on the best movie idea ever.

Edit: After reading some of Oliver's post, I really do miss the tight community that existed in '04. This post was emblematic of a lot of that camaraderie that seems lost now.

Posted by roy on December 8, 2008 at 08:59 PM in Ramblings | 3 Comments

I swear, magenesium makes you dreams go into HD. I had an incredibly vivid dream last night, which smacks of that Tom Hanks movie "Cast Away" and that Russell Crowe movie about hostages.

Basically me and some friends go backpacking/camping in South America. While camping, we get kidnapped by a bunch of bad guys who whisk us away into some far camp (it takes weeks to get there). While there, a massive earthquake unleashes the rickety wooden damn, which frees us from our captors. With no money and no passports, we trek our way back north. For reasons unknown, it takes us half a year to get back.

When I return, things have changed. People thought we were dead and moved on with their lives. Interestingly enough (interesting because obviously the job is on my mind a lot lately), MindTouch became a smashing success - I had a convo with Aaron in the dream, which was super awkward, cause I was basically replaced and had no role to come back to. My parents and friends had all been transformed into different people.

I woke up feeling incredibly depressed. It's hard to think that life doesn't stop - people keep moving on with their lives and they change.

Actually, I think this is one of the plot sub-texts in Futurama which really stuck with me - my favorite episode was the one about Fry's dog.

Anyways, if I were to ever graduate from writing really crappy short stories to writing really crappy incoherent long stories, I'd probably focus on the themes of change - how people will always move on with their lives.

Posted by roy on December 10, 2008 at 07:30 PM in Ramblings, Dreams | 6 Comments

Remember those fantastic Easter photos? Well, they were part of a documentary on MindTouch - you can watch as I try to talk about wikis and MindTouch while posing for pictures:

<a href="http://video.msn.com/?playlist=videoByUuids:uuids:f2370ddb-78fe-40c5-88eb-c81a378ce3e4&showPlaylist=true" mce_href="http://video.msn.com/?playlist=videoByUuids:uuids:f2370ddb-78fe-40c5-88eb-c81a378ce3e4&showPlaylist=true" target="_new" title="Open Source Documentary:Mindtouch">Video: Open Source Documentary:Mindtouch</a>

It's pretty painful, to say the least.

Posted by roy on December 10, 2008 at 07:38 PM in MindTouch | 5 Comments

A flash mob at UNC-Chapel Hill's Undergraduate Library:

Awesome. Go Heels!

Posted by roy on December 12, 2008 at 12:34 AM in Sports | 1 Comments

I'm exhausted, but I finally got the Christmas tree up. I thought this was going to be a two or three hour ordeal, but it turned out to be much more than that.

I first went to Target to buy Christmas lights, but they were all out of the white ones (I didn't want colored lights). So I went to Lowes. Nada. IKEA. No luck. In a state of desperation, I drove out to Wal-Mart, where they had white lights, but not LEDs. Fail. But being tired of driving around trying to find white LED lights, I decided just to go with the normal white lights.

I was a bit optimistic about how many ornaments should be adorned on my 6' tree ... I have three more boxes of ornaments (which I'll return tomorrow).

All in all, a worthwhile experience. But I'm not taking this Christmas tree down until at least March.

I also went out on a photo shoot this morning with Aaron and his adorable daughter Ashby; his take on what we did is up on his blog. I haven't had a chance yet to go through the photos, but I don't expect they'll be better than Aaron's. Ashby's pictures are awesome, though. (More on this later).

I also mounted my first piece of "real" artwork at my place (which involved a trip to Michael's and Staples) - wrapping paper from the MindTouch white elephant party. More on this later.

I was going to try to make it out to Joshua Tree State Park tomorrow (a two hour drive), but I'm pretty exhausted right now, and my place is a mess (boxes everywhere). I'll have to see if I can get enough sleep tonight :)

Posted by roy on December 14, 2008 at 01:36 AM in San Diego | Add a comment

i do dig this song quite a bit. (i realize it's a cover, but i like this version much better)

elvis costello - she

she may be the face I can't forget
the trace of pleasure or regret
may be my treasure or the prize i have to pay
she may be the song that summer sings
may be the chill that autumn brings
may be a hundred different things
within the measure of a day

she may be the beauty or the beast
may be the famine or the feast
may turn each day into a heaven or a hell
she may be the mirror of my dreams
a smile reflected in a stream
she may not be what she may seem
inside her shell

she, who always seems so happy in a crowd
whose eyes can be so private and so proud
no one's allowed to see them when they cry
she may be the love that cannot hope to last
may come to leap from shadows in the past
that i remember 'till the day i die

she may be the reason i survive
the why and wherefore I'm alive
the one i care for through the rough and ready years

me, i'll take the laughter and her tears
and make them all my souvenirs
and when she goes I've got to be
the meaning of my life is she

Posted by roy on December 14, 2008 at 11:08 PM in Music | 2 Comments

The ECR Project (via):

The El Camino Real Project is a photographic journey down “The Royal Road”, also known as The King’s Highway, the 600-mile (966-kilometer) California Mission Trail which is now a stretch of California road that consists of small businesses, homes and various motels. From So. San Francisco to San Diego, El Camino Real has a rich visual history. We aim to capture it.

I went shooting with Aaron and Ashby on Satuday:


I posted which few pictures that came out OK: http://roy.tabulas.com/gallery/el-camino-real/ - I haven't added these to Flickr yet - guess I'll be doing that tomorrow.

Ashby also took a bunch of pictures which Aaron posted; I actually think her photos are far more interesting than the ones I took - it's cool to see "her" perspective of the world - I had forgotten how everything had seemed so big. I also Poladroided some of her photos: http://roy.tabulas.com/gallery/ashbys-pictures-poladroided/

Posted by roy on December 15, 2008 at 01:17 AM in Photography | 1 Comments

Guerric created this image for DekiMobile, an iPhone interface for Deki: (which he later referenced)

Jessica then decided to use this guy to hand-make gift wrapping paper for MindTouch's white elephant party. Examine the close-up:

How hilarious is that?

I ended up taking home the gift wrapping paper and mounted it this weekend 'cause it's so awesome (my presents for the white elephant were stolen twice and I ended up with a "girl's night in" gift set - a bottle of cheap whine, some hand lotion, and a back brush - but hey, at least I walked away with this). I need to print out Guerric's picture and frame it for a side-by-side:

The act of creating is so cool - I will never respect people more than the ones who create things.

I took this picture of Aaron during the white elephant - I enjoy it because of how contextually rich it is (and it was taken with a Nikon, blech!):

Posted by roy on December 16, 2008 at 01:44 AM in MindTouch | 8 Comments

Gracelyn just wrote the coolest comment of the day:

This is completely random and unrelated to this entry, but I'm at an internet cafe on a random (I can't even remember the name of it) island in the Philippines and I was typing "tabulas.com" in the search bar and as it turns out, someone has already been on that website on this computer in this internet cafe on this random island in the Philippines.

These are the stories I take the greatest pride in.

Posted by roy on December 17, 2008 at 11:33 AM in Tabulas | 11 Comments

on a coffee run from work a few days back, damien caught this picture on his iphone:

he then decided to 'shop us into a nice christmas card:

and then made a second version:

what talent!

while i'm posting pictures, here's the christmas tree (finally got a decent picture of it after dragging my tripod out of my car):

like how i used the bows for flourish?

Posted by roy on December 18, 2008 at 02:12 AM in Foolishness, MindTouch, San Diego | Add a comment

Can somebody tell me which wireless network to use?

Posted by roy on December 18, 2008 at 11:47 PM in Ramblings, MindTouch | 2 Comments

Miss out on last year's Christmas cards? Worry not. There are even better ones this year.

If I haven't already asked for your address, leave a comment here or email me at royikim@gmail.com - I'd love to exchange cards!

Don't miss out :)

(P.S. You don't need to send cards if you don't want).

(P.P.S It's ok if you don't think you know me well enough - I know enough of you stalk this journal - just man (or woman) up and comment below).

Posted by roy on December 19, 2008 at 01:18 AM in Ramblings | 8 Comments

fear me. i hooked up my twitter to update from my cell phone a few weeks back. now i hooked up my twitter to post to my facebook status. PREPARE TO BE BOMBARDED. 

i should probably let tabulas be updated from twitter, too. and then you could crosspost that to livejournal/xanga/blogspot.

i wonder if i could write a loop that would do the following:

twitter -> facebook -> tabulas -> livejournal/blogger/xanga -> ??? -> twitter --> (repeat)

it'd bound to happen of these days. and if it does, how would you break that loop?

Posted by roy on December 21, 2008 at 06:59 PM in Ramblings, Web Development | Add a comment

This weekend, I finally cranked out some new gallery code (for the control panel, not for the front-end). With all the pictures I've been taking lately, managing the old gallery was far too cumbersome.

The problem was that I had written a level of abstraction in the CP which was geared towards helping me write less code - basically I extend a simple Item class to describe any item in Tabulas, for which there are many: links, entries, autolinks, icons, files, content files, templates, stylesheets, backups, etc. After I write the methods for interacting with these objects, I have a generic Items class which does all the legwork in defining the UI flow for adding/editing/deleting these items. This is why there's so much consistency between the views (check out how similar autolinks/icons are). And this does work, but like all generic things, it only does an average job and not an exceptional one.

When you're maintaining a large code base as a sole developer, this type of low overhead is necessary - it leaves me to spend my time taking foolish Christmas photos and baking cookies.

Anyways, the problem with this approach that while it was consistent, it wasn't very contextually relevant. Anybody who's used Tabulas' gallery in the past few months can tell you that the level of differentiation in albums/images was annoying. (Actually, had I not added the "Your gallery" option to the journal entry page, I probably would have stopped using the gallery a long time ago).

To modify albums, you had to go to the "albums" section, while modifying images had to be done in the "images" section. Not only that, but editing could only be done one item at a time. How annoying is that when you're trying to annotate a 24-image album that you just uploaded? Fail.

The ideal UI would merge the two concepts into a single, unified view. Or at least one which provides a unified navigation. So here is what I'm trying now:

Your full album list is on the left side. Everything (Although this may change - in my case, I have like 50 albums, so this gets real cumbersome real fast). Clicking any of the albums takes you to the list of images on that page, which you can immediately edit:

One problem that I had with views like this in the past was deleting - it was always so hard to do mass deletions when you weren't using a grid layout view. Fortunately, Facebook solved this problem for me, by adding a checkbox to each image for "deleting." I don't think it's intuitive at all, but it is pretty easy to use once you figure it out (maybe it's just a discoverability issue, then) and it cuts down on the code I have to write, so whatever.

So if the album target loads up the images, how do you edit the album itself? On the left side, underneath the album name:

Pretty self-explanatory.

The downside of this implementation is that it renders the "Gallery" tab kind of useless - it's just this one item, and gallery is too important to not have a tab. It's also not consistent with the rest of the UI (but that may not be a bad thing - maybe context is more important here). 

I'm much happier with this implementation for now; we'll see how well it continues to work.

. . .

This is unrelated, and I'm not sure if I've posted this before, but this is a "simplified" view of the US Interstate Highway system; it's designed like those subway maps.

I don't know why, but I think it's just the coolest thing ever:

I wonder if they make this in a poster - that'd be really cool.

Edit: Well, that was quick. I found it with some quick Googling - $12 for a 16" x 20" print? I'm in! (This also led me to a really cool blog - Strange Maps. Added to my daily reading!


Posted by roy on December 22, 2008 at 09:18 PM in Web Development, Tabulas | 4 Comments

Just one random thought I want to get down that's been bugging me: people who have been fiscally conservative (no debt, high savings rate) are getting pretty screwed.

The downside of pumping down so much money into the economy is that rates (CDs, savings, etc.) are going pushed down. With Treasury Bills yielding close to nothing and FDIC-insured saving accounts yielding ~2.75% APR (I use ING Direct), where is a young person supposed to be saving? Simply put: what is the best investment option for me?

Equities are out (dollar-cost averaging ...  yeah, right), savings yield nothing, T-Bills yield nothing, real estate is a bad idea, too. No wonder banks aren't using the TARP money for anything - they must have the same concerns as I do.

But really, I find it amusing that of all times when a situation forces people into a higher savings rate, there's nowhere to turn to. I guess that's what happens!

(P.S. For the record, I moved almost all my money into ING - equities suck right now. No need to try to catch falling knives!)

Posted by roy on December 23, 2008 at 06:41 PM in Finances | 1 Comments

Following up with my Amazon S3 bandwidth usage post, here's the daily bandwidth usage breakdown for November and December:

It's amazing how much a 50-line PHP script can cut down on S3 usage. I also took fdn's suggestions and started invalidating the local cache (local disk space is getting low).

Next step will be to merge images.tabulas.co and images.tabulas.co - currently images.tabulas still serves from S3. There are some issues right now with missing metadata on some images in the Tabulas DB - I need to run a new update script which will repopulate those entries, so I can send the proper headers down the pipe. If I can cut down Tabulas' monthly costs to $300/month, I'll be super-stoked (I was ringing up close to $600 in the middle of '08).

Posted by roy on December 24, 2008 at 01:18 PM in Tabulas | 2 Comments

Sorry, more sunset pictures. I'm sure you guys are sick of these by now, but too bad. As always, these haven't been touched up by Photoshop (except to size them down for the web and to rotate the horizons if they're off-balanced).

A half-second later, and this exposure would have been perfect (the bird should have cleared the horizon). I still enjoy the original sized version. I realized you could get heavy blues if you white-balanced the camera against those orange lightbulbs (I had it set as a Custom WB from my last night-time shoot). Very interesting, and something I'll be sure to continue experimenting with.

This is with a more accurate white balance. The lighthouse you see in the distance is Point Loma.

For the life of me, I still cannot get a San Diego cityscape shot I like. This was another failed experiment (I want enough cloud cover to give it the sense of motion; tonight was too much). I keep futzing with the white balance too - I can't tell whether i want to make the tone neutral or not. Oh well, I'll figure it out sometime.

. . .

This is apparently a very popular song in the UK during Christmas-time; it's been on repeat for me today. A belated Merry Christmas to you all!

Currently listening to: Nuno Bettencourt - Pursuit of Happiness
Posted by roy on December 26, 2008 at 12:13 AM in Photography, San Diego | 8 Comments

i've been having a blast in vegas the past two days - the stories are just like everybody else's so i'll save them (clubs, limos, lots of alcohol, gambling, drunk girls), but it's nice to blow off some steam.

one of the reasons i took this trip (besides seeing one of my friends from back east!) was to really reaffirm to myself some personal decisions i've made. long road trips with the right music can work wonders for myself - i also had the benefit of talking through some of the issues with outside perspectives just now. basically, i know what i need to do, and i know why what i'm doing right now is wrong (not that this was ever unclear, i just had a hard time convincing myself).

maybe it's just cause it's a quarter to five (i have a long drive tomorrow - meeting friends in LA, then driving back down), but i do feel more strongly now about sticking to what i know is the right decision. before, i knew that it was logically the right thing to do, but i hadn't completely convinced myself. maybe i still haven't convinced myself, but i feel closer to it.

i can't control everything in this world, and sometimes you just gotta let stuff happen around you.

Posted by roy on December 28, 2008 at 05:53 AM in Personal | Add a comment

home, sweet, home... i love it!

Posted by roy on December 29, 2008 at 02:32 AM in San Diego | Add a comment

It seems a bulk of the people got my Christmas cards (you international people may need to wait a few more days). I now feel comfortable unveiling the cards to the greater public.

After last year's Christmas photos, I was certain I wasn't going to do them again. I mean, honestly, how do you cap the absolute awkwardness of these photos?

The answer: convince three of your coworkers to join in on the fun. It took us two times to get out to Sears (they "lost" our appointment the first time), but it turned out much better (they were pricks the first night we came) cause we had a nice vibe with our photographer (always very important).

Instead of just sending one card out, we made a collector's set of 7 and distributed them in the office. Unfortunately, the ones that were mailed out were all the same - I picked the one I thought was most awkward.

Each of these were touched up in Photoshop (for the soft glow effect), and we Photoshopped our autographs on there for PERSONALIZATION:


The seventh one is missing - it was digitally altered by Guerric to represent "Happy Holidays from San Diego" - I'll try to track it down and post it.

There were also "individual" session shots:

Thanks to my coworkers (Corey, Damien, and Guerric) for being such great sports. More session pictures in the album.

Currently listening to: Florida ft. Timbaland - Elevator
Posted by roy on December 30, 2008 at 12:09 AM in Foolishness, MindTouch, San Diego | 6 Comments

Man, I love it when random one-hit wonders from the years past hits my iTunes. Remember this one?

Sugarbomb - Hello

I feel so peculiar,
I don't know what to say
But don't let me fool you,
I'm not one bit afraid, no way

One thing's for sure
What I would give to simply open my door
and see your smiling face

Hello, hello... won't you come right in?
I'd give anything just to see you again
Hello, hello... won't you come right in?
Step into my world where you know you're everything
Everything I need

I'm suddenly hopeful whenever you're in sight, that's right
I talk about you all day and whisper your name at night, that's right

Whatever you need
What I would give if you should ask it of me
To make you feel complete

I could go on and on
Do it again, again, again
Whisper your name
Would you do the same for me?

I feel so peculiar... I don't know what to say

Everything ... where you know you're everything
You know, I feel so peculiar
You know, I feel so strange

Download linkie or listen to it:

Posted by roy on December 31, 2008 at 12:45 AM in Music | Add a comment
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