Grand Canyon Photography

I found it difficult to capture the full beauty of the Grand Canyon. In the morning, when the sun first hits the canyon walls, the colors begin to warm up.

ISO 100, 20 mm, f/5.6, 1/60 seconds

However, as the sun rises, the sunlight totally washes out the colors of the canyons. I didn’t find any midday photos that came out well straight from the camera. Sure, I could tweak the saturation and contrast in Photoshop, but what’s the fun in that?

ISO 100, 28 mm, f/4, 1/30 seconds

Towards sunset, the sky took on a surreal palette with a purple and pink ribbon running along the horizon. This image is straight from the camera. Outside of resizing the photo, I have not touched it otherwise. The tower at Desert View is in the background.

ISO 100, 32 mm, f/8, 20 seconds

30 minutes later, the pink ribbon had vanished from the horizon and it was definitely dark. The purple canyon walls evoke a calmer and cooler mood than the more typical red rocks seen during the day.


Hoover Dam Tours

Located about an hour out of Las Vegas, Hoover Dam is a natural stop when heading out to or back from the Grand Canyon.

Hoover Dam offers several different tours from admission to the visitor center to tours of the dam and powerplant.

The visitor center offers exhibits on the history of the Colorado River, the building of Hoover Dam, and how dams generate electricity.

From the visitor center, the outlook offers a view of the dam below.

Hoover Dam offers an educational experience with a mix of history, science, and geography. There’s a cafe by the parking lot that offers visitors a bite to eat before they head out for the long drive to the Grand Canyon.


Grand Canyon Hotel and Dining

The Grand Canyon provides beautiful vistas throughout the year. If you are willing to endure some cold weather, the winter season offers an opportunity to visit explore the canyon when the crowds are few and far between. To book a Grand Canyon hotel or lodge, visit the Grand Canyon Lodges website. Depending on the time of year and the size of your party, you may have a number of lodging options from which to select.

El Tovar is the main hotel located on the south rim of the Grand Canyon.

TripAdvisor is a bit confusing because it categorizes El Tovar under hotels, Kachina Lodge under specialty lodging and Thunderbird Lodge as a bed and breakfast. In reality, the differences between these options are not significant.

From the outside, Kachina Lodge resembles a college dormitory. No charisma. No architectural details worth observing.

The Kachina Lodge rooms are slightly more attractive inside. But, when you step outside, you are greeted with a view of the Grand Canyon.

In terms of location, I would consider El Tovar, Kachina Lodge, Thunderbird Lodge and Bright Angel Lodge to be equivalent. There are no advantages to be gained, in terms of geography, to pick one over the other.

For food, the Arizona Room is well within walking distance for all four lodging options above. The food selections are somewhat limited. After one dinner in the Arizona Room, I opted for all remaining meals at the adjoining Bright Angel Restaurant, Fountain & Bar. The portion size is on the generous side, so if you are health conscious, splitting an entree with a friend would be recommended.

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iTunes Full-Screen Panic

I was trying to look up my iTunes purchase history and even arrived at the correct support page. Unfortunately, I could not find the “Purchase History” link to click on. In a bit of frustration, I turned to the reliable keystroke for looking up all sorts of stuff on the Mac. ⌘+F triggers the find dialog in Safari, Finder, and a bunch of other apps.

But, in iTunes, it triggers the Lion full-screen mode. So, I was left with iTunes in full screen without the horizontal traffic lights–red, yellow and green buttons–to minimize my window. I scanned around the keyboard and was able to escape back to the desktop via the Expose function key.

To revert iTunes back to window mode, I had to move the cursor to the top of the screen to trigger the menu bar. In the upper right-hand corner, there’s a blue icon with arrows pointing inward to switch iTunes back to window mode.


iPhone 4s Impressions

Last Friday, I stopped by the Palo Alto Apple store during my lunch hour for the iPhone 4s launch. I guess everyone else must have ordered the iPhone online because the line out the door was surprisingly short. It reached just barely past the corner.

The drink cart and loaner umbrellas kept everyone cool under the mid-day sun:

Post-it notes with personal messages in memory of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs covering the front window of the store:

So, I’ve been skipping iPhone generations: iPhone to iPhone 3GS to iPhone 4s. The leap from iPhone to iPhone 3GS was tremendous in that I could browse the internet while away from a Wi-Fi connection, provided that AT&T cooperated. The move from iPhone 3GS to iPhone 4s feels more evolutionary than revolutionary.

What I Like

64 GB. I found the 32 GB to be too confining. Glad Apple bumped up the optional storage. Definitely worth paying for.

Retina Display. I’ve already seen the retina display on other people’s iPhone 4. Something nice to have, but not completely essential.

Siri. I can see how some people may find Siri to be conceptually useful. For the first few days, Siri was giving me the cold shoulder. I heard so many excuses–one after another–about Siri not being able to reach the network. I guess that Siri was not prepared to talk to a million people all at once.

Despite the marketing of Siri as an intelligent personal assistant that understands natural language, I haven’t had too much success getting it to do what I want. It takes some effort to get it to follow instructions correctly.

Too quite a few iterations to get the phrasing just right. Also, had to add Costco to my directory in order for Reminders to recognize the name / location. Siri only understands Costco if I enunciate. When I pronounce it as Cosco instead of Costco (with a strong T sound), Siri gets confused.

What I Don’t Like

Network. If your iPhone 3GS has a poor connection to the network, don’t expect the iPhone 4s to perform any miracles. The AT&T dead zones afflict the iPhone 4s just as harshly as the iPhone 3GS.

Settings. Lost all my This American Life settings when I switched to the iPhone 4s. On the 3GS, I had marked all the radio shows I had listened to. Now, I’m back to step 1 again.


Hate the New Facebook?

  1. In Safari, select Safari > Preferences.
  2. Click on the Advanced tab, and check the box labeled Show Develop menu in menu bar.
  3. Select Develop > User Agent > Safari iOS 4.3.3 – iPad
  4. Return to Facebook.
  5. Say goodbye to Top Stories Since Your Last Visit, 100+ More Recent Stories, etc. Sorry, ticker is still there though.

Liang’s Kitchen 梁媽媽家

I’m not sure what the official Chinese or English name is for this dish, but it’s essentially sliced beef wrapped in a green onion pancake with a touch of Hoisin sauce. Absolutely delicious when shared, but the oil from the green onion pancake is a bit much if you overindulge.


Exploratorium, San Francisco, CA

On a foggy San Francisco morning, I stopped by the Palace of Fine Arts to visit the Exploratorium. While the museum is off the 101, transportation is a hassle because a stretch of 101 winds through the City of San Francisco, with all the attendant problems that crowded streets and endless blocks of traffic lights bring.

With a print-at-home coupon in hand, we walked up to the admission desk and claimed our $2 off for adults and $1 off for children discount.

The breadth of exhibits was astounding. The junior explorers had a wonderful time seeing, touching and experiencing the science in action. The museum had both simple and complex exhibits that appealed to young children, teenagers and adult alike. Allow a minimum of three hours for a cursory roam through the museum.

One of my favorite exhibits was a camera and flash rigged to a dropper and a cup of water. A rotary dial allowed the user to select how soon after the water drop the camera would take a photo. Who knew that hands-on science can be so much fun.


BBEdit 10 Custom Menu Shortcuts

Previously, I mentioned that BBEdit 10 was missing a “Set Key” button to map menu items to a custom hotkey. Well, I heard back from support, and here’s the undocumented trick. Clicking on the empty space to the right where the other hotkeys are listed brings up a field for entering your new custom shortcut. If the new shortcut conflicts with an existing shortcut, you will be prompted with an option to remap the hotkey to the current menu item.


Safari 5.1 Headers

Safari 5.1 is the latest version of Apple’s web browser. People who work on websites should notice a change in the Web Inspector, when compared to Safari 5.0. Previously, clicking on the Resources icon brought up the file size and loading time data, which is useful for diagnosing why a particular web page may be loading slowly.

In Safari 5.1, you can still view this data; however, it has been moved under the Network tab. Another difference is that in Safari 5.0, you could inspect this data after a page load. Safari 5.1 changes this. If you do not have Web Inspector open at the time a page loads, the Network data appears blank. That’s why I could not locate this data at first glance.

If you want to look at the Headers, clicking on the name of one of the files brings up the Status Code, Request URL, and Response Headers.