2010 – Year In Review

“Happiness is like a butterfly; the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder…” – Henry David Thoreau

Last year I wrote a “year in review” style post about the year in my life. I figured I’d keep that going again this year. It’s fun to look back and ahead to the new year.

Dorothy and I have been fortunate enough to have another fantastic year. We’re healthier and happier than ever.

The Start of 2010
We started 2010 living in a chalet in whistler complete with hot tub and BBQ courtesy of VANOC. The first few months of 2010 we’re spent going back and forth between Whistler and Vancouver. We had two AMAZING roommates in Duncan and James. As you can imagine living in a chalet at Whistler was quite a treat and having two great roommates was just bonus! It was a fascinating time up in Whistler. The place was being turned upside down in preparation for the olympics and people we’re partying like crazy.

I can now check off “live in whistler” from my bucket list…

During this time I got to see the Olympic torch go by a few times. I streamed it live on my phone and friends from various places around the world watched from my phone. In fact 2010 was the first time I ever did any live streaming from my phone.

In order to get ready for our big trip I started to pear down on our possessions. Anything we didn’t want to keep was either sold, given away, or tossed out. We’d already been living a minimalist lifestyle but this process still took longer than we’d anticipated. It really is remarkable how much “stuff” works it’s way into our lives. Our goal was to get rid of everything we possibly could. From furniture to to clothes. We we’re left with a few items which we put in storage. Things like our vintage bicycles and photo albums. Things that you can’t really replace.

The Vancouver 2010 Olympics
Before we knew it a little event called the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games took place! Dorothy worked to help put the olympics together so we had “backstage” access to many of the events. We had an official VANOC vehicle with no driving or parking restrictions. Since we we’re at Whistler for part of the games we could actually walk to some of the events. We ran into Buzz Aldrin at men’s super G. I was more excited to see him than to see the skiing… My family also came out to Vancouver to see some of the events so it was really fun.

It was a crazy fun time. We we’re working, partying, enjoying the Olympics, spending time with family, and getting ready to leave town.

The end of the olympics we’re really special for Dorothy and I. It was the most incredible day I’ve ever spent in Vancouver. People we’re lined up at bars all over the city to watch Canada play the United States in Men’s Gold Medal Hockey. After we watched Canada win at a pub I went out into the streets and saw the city literally erupt with joy. Someone was smart enough to record the audio of the city as Canada won. You can watch it (or rather listen to it) below.

There was a massive party in the streets and total strangers we’re hugging and high fiving everywhere. It was amazing and i’ll never forget it. This epic street party lasted all day long, right up until the closing ceremonies.

Being at the closing ceremonies was an incredible experience as well. It was the end of a chapter in our lives. Dorothy had been working day and night for YEARS to help put the olympics together and it all came to a close on that night. It was an emotional and exhilarating time for everyone.

Here are my Vancouver 2010 Olympics photos.

It’s hard to believe that was just the start of 2010 for us.

#RTWnow
After the Olympics wrapped up we went on a Round The World trip. #RTWsoon went into #RTWnow mode! (RTWnow is the Twitter hashtag for people who are on Round The World trips and want to share content and experiences with each other.)

On April 1st 2010 we flew to Toronto, dropped off dog with Dorothy’s family and then we flew to Paris. We’ve had an amazing trip that will literally have taken us all the way around the world when we finish.

Abbreviated list of cities we’ve visited in the 2010 calendar year:

    Whistler, Canada
    Vancouver, Canada
    Toronto, Canada
    Paris, France
    Lisbon, Portugal
    Casce, Portugal
    Sintra, Portugal
    Madrid, Spain
    Barcelona, Spain
    Majorca, Spain
    Marseille, France
    Interlaken, Switzerland
    Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland
    Gryon, Switzerland
    Venice, Italy
    Rome, Italy
    Vatican City
    Athens, Greece
    Santorini, Greece
    Ios, Greece
    Mykonos, Greece
    Athens, Greece
    Dubai, United Arab Emirates
    Manila, Philippines
    Cataclan, Philippines
    Boracay, Philippines
    Sydney, NSW, Australia
    Melbourne, VIC, Australia
    Geelong, VIC, Australia
    Adelaide, SA, Australia
    Port Augusta, SA, Australia
    Cooper Pedy, SA, Australia
    Uluru/Ayers Rock, NT, Australia
    Alice Springs, NT, Australia
    Tenant Creek, NT, Australia
    Katherine, NT, Australia
    Darwin, NT, Australia
    Kununura, WA, Australia
    Broome, WA, Australia
    80 Mile Beach, WA, Australia
    Port Hedland, WA, Australia
    Krratha, WA, Australia
    Exmouth, WA, Australia
    Cape Range, WA, Australia
    Coral Bay, WA, Australia
    Carnarvon, WA, Australia
    Monkey Mia, WA, Australia
    Denhim, WA, Australia
    Shark Bay, WA, Australia
    Point Quobba, WA, Australia
    Kalbarri, WA, Australia
    Hutt River Province (A ‘sovereign’ area within Australia. We met “Prince” Leonard himself)
    Geraldton, WA, Australia
    Jurien Bay, WA, Australia
    Perth, WA, Australia
    Fremantle, WA, Australia
    Rockingham, WA, Australia
    Bunbury, WA, Australia
    Busselton, WA, Australia
    Margaret River, WA, Australia
    Augusta, WA, Australia
    Cape Leeuwin, WA, Australia
    Albany, WA, Australia
    Esperance, WA, Australia

The Now
As I write this we’re at our “secret” spot for Christmas. A friend of ours who has been traveling around Australia for the last 18 years “reckons” it’s his favorite spot in all of Australia. Only the locals even know it exists because it’s way off the beaten track. So we’re very happy to have been invited here. We wouldn’t want to spoil the fun and tell people about this place. It’s quite nice with no tourists here and the fishing is fantastic! Living the beach lifestyle and living off the sea is like a dream.

We still have the entire East Coast of Australia to see including the Great Barrier Reef! We will fly back to Los Angeles on May 1st 2011. About a week later we’ll fly to Vancouver, then Toronto, and finally we’ll be in the 1000 Islands area for part of summer 2011.

This trip has changed my life forever.

I’ve never been more inspired and happy in my life.

My Photography In 2010
Just a quick note on my photography.

I’ve been into digital photography since about 1999 when I bought my first digital camera. I’ve probably taken almost a million photographs by now. Photography is such an important part of my life. In 2010 I really focused on my photography school. I’ve found that helping other people learn photography is really fun.

In 2010 I sold all my Nikon gear (lenses and all) and switched entirely over to Canon. So far I’m happy with Canon but Nikon is still far superior in terms of the ergonomics of the camera itself.

I’m starting to really hate flickr and I’m still looking for a better alternative. I have yet to find a better photo sharing and hosting service. I’ll probably try photoshelter this year.

Speaking of photos… Here are some random photos from this year. I would upload higher resolution versions but we have slow internet here at the moment.

Here are some photos from this year:

Things I Hope To Do In 2011
I stopped doing “new years resolutions” a few years ago. I find new years resolutions to be like “the secret” style thinking where you just think positive thoughts and hopefully something good will happen to you. I believe in taking concrete action towards very specific goals and just making things happen instead of letting things happen to you.

As ridiculous as it sounds, I plan to embark on another epic trip.

I hope to continue traveling whilst working (online) for the foreseeable future. The digital nomad lifestyle is full of adventure and excitement. I’m not keen to stop that anytime soon. Maybe we’ll drive from Alaska to South America in customized Mercedes Sprinter Van? Who knows… As of now there is no plan for fall 2011.

I hope to spend a big chunk of the Canadian summer with my father in the 1000 islands.

I will probably publish the ebooks I’m writing now. Maybe I’ll sell a copy or two. Who knows, I’m just doing it because I enjoy writing anyway. I might just give them away.

I think I’ll stop doing any consulting work for the time being. It’s just not that interesting anymore.

I will dramatically improve my photography school in 2011. I will update the course content, improve the student forum, change the price structure (raise prices), and make it scale a little better. A Chinese outfit is looking to license the course and it’s content so that could work out nicely. We’ll see…

Wrap It Up Already!
I hope you all had a great year and wish you the best in 2011!

Dorothy and I miss you guys.

Here’s to 2011!! Happy New Year everyone!!

Hootsuite iPhone App Review

hootsuite iphone app

Hootsuite.com is to Twitter what Gmail is to email. It’s like a swiss army knife for twitter. So if you haven’t tried it yet I highly recommend it. It’s my favorite twitter client and it’s web based. You get all the benefits of the cloud and none of the BS that comes from traditional desktop software. IE software updates syncing between multiple computers etc etc…

The new Hootstuite iPhone App includes all of that functionality. The app is snappy, easy to use, and slick. It allows you to go between you mentions, DMs, etc with the swipe of the finger. Just like paging through your apps. It also has infinite scrolling ala Google Reader. I’ve been using the product for a few weeks as Ryan Holmes aka @invoker gave it to me to check out. You can get the app starting December 10th, 2009.

Pros:

  • Multiple Twitter Accounts
  • It’s fast
  • It’s clean
  • The UI is very well done
  • It does stats

Cons:

  • Initial setup wasn’t as simple as it could have been.

Conclusion:
IMHO the Hootsuite iPhone app is the best twitter client for the iPhone.

[http://hootsuite.com/iphone“>Visit Hootsuite]

Flip Mino HD Review

Flip Mino HD Review

I’ve stopped holding out for the perfect video camera and purchased a Flip Mino HD camcorder. At some point I decided it was better to have low fi videos of my life than to have none. Full res 1080p videos that don’t exist aren’t very fun… So here’s a couple quick thoughts on the Flip Mino HD:

Shooting Video with the Flip:
The mino is very easy to use. All you have to do is push the giant red button and you’re shooting video. There are no settings and that is an awesome feature. You can toss it in your pocket and go because it’s super light small. It’s so easy to use that I’ve started using it to send that you videos instead of thank you notes… It’s perfect for little off the cuff youtube style videos.

Quality:
The quality is crap. Get over it and have fun with it instead. For those who want to know the lack of image stabilizer really hurts the the quality of the video on playback. If you need to shoot some quick video and put it online quickly this is the best solution for you. If you need super high quality video that will be viewed on large screens get something else.

FlipShare Software:
The software installs right off the device itself. No install disk bullshit, no drivers, none of that crap. It’s a huge plus to be able to get going quickly.

Pros:

  • No tape
  • No capturing
  • Easy Uploading
  • Small
  • Easy
  • It’s fun to have lots of video

Cons:

  • No image stabilizer
  • No HDMI
  • The screen is low resolution
  • The buttons don’t work very well

Conclusion:
It’s amazingly rare to find a piece of technology (excluding Apple products) that has good hardware-software integration or whatever that’s called. 99% of the time the device kicks ass and the software is complete shit. In this instance both the device and the software do exactly what they should and nothing more. What’s even more rare is something simple and fun to use with no feature bloat, yet.

[Flip Mino on Amazon]

Drobo Review

Drobo Front

Drobo Open

Drobo Back

I’ve had a second gen Drobo for about a month and I thought I’d share my thoughts on the device. I put in four two Terabyte drives in it. I run it connected to a 3.06 GHZ 24 inch iMac with 4GB of ram on Mac OSX 10.5.7 using Firewire 800. I haven’t dumped all of my media onto it yet but I’ve played around with it enough to know whats up.

What is a Drobo?
According to Wikipedia:

“Drobo is a data storage peripheral which interfaces up to four 3.5″ SATA hard drives with a computer via High-Speed USB 2.0 or FireWire 800 (2nd generation only). It is primarily designed to allow installation and removal of storage devices without requiring manual data migration, and also for increasing storage capacity of the unit without downtime.”

Who should buy one?
Anyone who creates lots of media and is constantly running out of storage. Shooting RAW photos and HD video eats up space like it’s going out of style. Cloud storage services like S3 would be much better for backup, unfortunately consumer ISP bandwidth is so slow its flat out unfeasible for large amounts of data. As an aside I tried to use one of these cloud based services (backblaze) and it told me it was going to take more than a year of non stop uploading to make the initial backup given my So until the day when we all live happily in the cloud local storage is the way to go. With that in mind the most flexible solution is a Drobo.

videographer

Things you should know:
The actual amount of storage you get is MUCH less than what the drives can store. This is because the system needs a big chunk of space in order to be able to move files around and secure the data. See ‘used for protection’ below:
Drobo Dashboard Expanded

The Drobo comes with an app that is relatively unobtrusive. However it runs as a login/startup item by default so you see it every single time you reboot. Luckily you can easily disable it. Here it is:

Drobo Dashboard Screenshot

Speaking of booting, this thing actually boots up like a computer. I thought this was bizarre because I’ve never had a peripheral boot up before. Depending on the size of your drives it can take quite some time to boot up.

Here is a screenshot of the dashboard ‘advanced’ control panel when it’s healthy:
Drobo Advanced Controls

If you see anything other than green here you’ve got problems and you’ll need to do something about it. If you see red one of your drives is probably failing. My brother Jon Rawlinson got one and had a drive failure within a few days of owning it. Not sure if he lost data or not. Jon?

Something else you should know is that the Drobo will completely erase the drives you put into it when you first start using it. So you’ll have to migrate the contents of any drive you want to use before you insert the drive into the Drobo. On that note bear in mind that it only accepts SATA drives. So if your first thought was use that stack of old IDE hard drives on the shelf you’re SOL. Someone needs to make a Drobo like device for those old drives lying around.

Pros:

  • Huge amount of space.
  • Expandable.
  • Hot swappable.
  • Don’t need a bunch of external drives lying around.
  • Easier than a traditional RAID.

Cons:

  • You’ll probably just end up with more stuff to backup!
  • It has to boot up and its slow to do so.
  • If the drive goes to sleep it takes a while to wake.
  • Has it’s own fan and it can be noisy when the drive is running hot.
  • All your eggs are in one basket.
  • For some reason it’s ass slow if you try to run Aperture off it.

Conclusion:
It’s a great device and has certainly given me peace of mind. The Drobo is far from perfect but I would recommend to anyone who needs a big chunk of storage.

[Drobo on Amazon | Photo by blhphotography]