London 2006

                

London: September 18-22, 2006.

The London trip was even more crammed than Paris. This was purely business, so sightseeing was limited – in fact all the exploration took place within a 4 hour period after the conclusion of our meetings. In other words, forget the glamour of being in London, we were cooped in at the Heathrow Hilton for days with only bread and water for sustenance – ok, so I”m exaggerating just a little.

My colleague Arnaldo and I took the Heathrow Express Train from Airport Terminal 4 to Paddington Station downtown. It was a short ride and as soon as we got in we hurried off the train and made our way to the exit and up the stairs, to get some air and sunlight.

Hitting the London street I was pleased with the late day light – good for photos – but the surrounding area itself was pretty bland – looked just like certain sections of downtown Montreal or other large North American cities for that matter.

Time being constrained, I figured I would start with a street shot. I brought the Nikon’s viewfinder to my eye and got ready to walk on to the street, facing the traffic (there was none) when I felt something behind me, the oddest sensation. Instinctively I quickly got back on the curb just as something big, red, and ugly whizzed past me. Had I actually stayed on the road I would have been projected a good 100 feet (30 meters) or so – this would have been accompanied by the sound of crunching bones (mine).

Arnaldo, who witnessed everything was white-faced. I must have been too, and “brown-pantsed” as well. We both kept an eye out for each other after that, as we crossed street after street in our quest to see as much of London as possible in a few hours.

After almost getting squashed by that double-decker bus (I forgot they drive on the left in the UK) we made our way towards the Thames.

The first stop was Trafalgar Square – statues, fountains, and free stainless steel bathrooms (for some reason the latter left a mark on me). After that it was Big Ben and The Parliament buildings – “nice” as Borat would say and then the amazing Westminster Abbey (we did not have time to visit inside).

We walked back to the Thames, photographed the Millennium Wheel and decided that was enough – time to sample the English beer at the first pub we would encounter – very good and reasonably priced by London standards.

So in a relatively short time, we managed to see quite a few of the landmarks – including
Buckingham Palace
(it was a bit of a disappointment, particularly since the Royal Family did not come out to greet us). It was my first trip to the UK but I hope I will be back real soon.

We returned to the Hotel in the evening, taking the underground (the tube) to Paddington and then back on the train to Heathrow. After 4 hours of brisk London walking we were both tired and hungry. We stayed at the Hotel and had hamburgers for dinner – I don’t remember the exact price but I know it could have fed a family in a developing country for a year (I think it was 32 pounds or something totally ridiculous in that range – but it did come with fries).

The next morning it was Air Canada back home (once more stopping in Toronto).

The London Gallery.

3D Photo Galleries

With Adobe Atmosphere joining vrml – both 6 feet underground – Flatland‘s 3dml remains the only choice for building interactive 3D Photo Galleries. It requires the Rover plug-in (which also acts as a standalone 3D browser).

There are no plans to showcase this technology at Sleeping Wolves right now given it requires a plugin – it can be downloaded here.

The pros: free, powerful, support for high resolution images, scripting

The cons: user must have plug-in installed, development requires time and design skills, inactive site and community, does not work with FireFox.

phpBB Photos

A good method to share photos on the popular phpBB forums is thru the attachment mod.

The name might be a little misleading – you can attach files but more importantly you can also display them directly (inline) in a posting. It is that latter capability which is great for sharing photos – you can either allow your users to upload (you can set quotas and file size restrictions) or you can leave that privilege for the webmaster – it’s more convenient than FTP.

A thread with duck images posted using the attachment mod can be viewed here.

The pros: free, convenient, integrates well with phpbb (with some tweaking), very large support community.

The cons: requires a phpbb forum, installation and configuration is definitely not for beginners, may require modifications based on template used for forum.

Pixelpost

From the Pixelpost website:

Pixelpost is a photoblog application powered by PHP and MySQL. It’s developed and maintained by photobloggers who like to keep the meaning behind photoblogging in mind, the photography, and not about the 311 hacks you would have to get through to get your regular blog to work like. As a Content Management System, it is required to be uploaded onto a webserver in order for it to function.

To view a Pixelpost Photoblog just click Nature or Travel from the main menu.

The pros: customizable, professional, free, good support community, easy to use, excellent admin dashboard, frequent updates.

The cons: limited themes

Folderblog

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

Folderblog is a PHP script that can display photos in the form of a photoblog or a photo gallery. It works by displaying all the images stored in a given directory without requiring an external database. Captions and comments are stored in simple text files. Folderblog is a small efficient script at around 25 kilobytes.

The pros: customizable, free, small, no database required, very easy and practical to use.

The cons: limited themes, small community/lack of support, not updated frequently

Note: although Folderblog does not use MySQL or a database, it still requires a server. Testing locally requires installing a WAMP.

Paris 2006

                

Paris: September 16-18, 2006.

I flew into Heathrow Saturday and quickly got on a British Airways Flight to Paris. Security at Heathrow was very tight, as it had been for the Montreal departure. All I could take onboard was my camera bag. The flight itself reminded me of the Montreal to Toronto line – half the passengers are English, the other half French – except these are Europeans.

When I arrived in St.Cyr (just outside Versailles) I was a zombie – totally jet lagged. I went for a long walk just to recover and prepare for the next two days.

On Sunday, our destination is Paris. We packed a week into 1 long enjoyable day – we started at the Champs Elysées. This has to be my favourite boulevard in the world – every time I’m there (this was the 4th or 5th trip) I just have to have the croissants au beurre – to die for as they say.

In the Audi, we passed by The Place de la Concorde with the famous Obélisque de Luxor. There you can also see the Tuileries Garden and the magnificent Louvre museum including that horrible pyramid (as featured in the da Vinci code book and movie).

We also drove by the Opera and the Palais Royal. From there we parked and walked to the Arc de Triomphe where the unknown soldier is buried.

After the Champs, it was Montmartre – home of La Basilique du Sacré Coeur – we climbed up and I had a chance to photograph the artists – unfortunately Paris is full of dumb tourists like myself all year round – making photography a challenge – there was always some idiot walking into the frame – very frustrating. The weather was mild but cloudy, grey, very drab – not the best conditions if you’re expecting saturated colours.

Next stop the magnificent Notre-Dame de Paris (home of the famous hunchback). We walked around and then went down les quaies de la Seine where they had a mini food festival. The day ended with some quick photos of the Eiffel Tower – I jumped out of the car and fired off some shots.

Later than night, at about 10:30 PM, we returned to the Tower and watched it all lit up. There were soldiers with automatic rifles everywhere as this is an obvious target for terrorists. So that wrapped up the day in Paris.

Thankfully I still had time left in France. The next morning I paid respect to my grandparents and uncle – at their respective cemeteries – unexpectedly emotional moments. The rest of the Monday morning was spent in Versailles, oh so beautiful Versailles.

We walked the gardens – again we were rushed for time (the two gals I was with had to return to work) – but at least the sun did rear its glorious autumn head from time to time.

                

Later that day I took the train from Versailles to the Invalides and a bus shuttle to the CDG airport – enroute back to London’s Heathrow for the business end of this trip. Unfortunately the bus shuttle wasn’t there – contrary to what we thought it actually leaves from Place de l’Étoile. So I grabbed a cab and got another 20 minute tour of Paris – then it was off to London.

The Paris and Versailles Galleries.

Tale of Two Cities

Paris: September 16-18, 2006. London: September 18-22, 2006.
This summer it was Italy. This autumn I was fortunate enough to see Paris and London – in other words, I was able to see three of the most beautiful cities in the world (add Rome) just a few months apart. Anyway, I just got back and it was an awesome trip to say the least – short but very sweet.

Overall, between London and Paris I shot close to 500 photos, but the weather and tourists in Paris definitely didn’t make for the best conditions. Still what a great trip!!!

The Paris and London Galleries. Not to forget Versailles either.

Google Analytics

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Google Analytics (GA) is a free service offered by Google that generates detailed statistics about the visitors to a website. Its main highlight is that a webmaster can optimize their AdWords advertisement and marketing campaigns through the use of GA’s analysis of where the

Google’s service was modeled upon Urchin Software Corporation’s analytics system, Urchin on Demand (Google acquired Urchin Software Corp. in April 2005). Google still sells the standalone installable Urchin software through a network of value-added resellers.

I haven’t actively promoted the site so I’m not too preoccupied with statistics…particularly since this site doesn’t allow advertising and doesn’t sell anything either…but it is fun to play with google analytics, at least to view the distribution of visitors…from Australia to North America, South America, Europe…even Korea (yeah, I know who it is and it isn’t little Kim).


p.s. I apologize for the mammalian look of montreal on the map…that’s where most of the visits come from (most are mine!).

The pros: free, very powerful, extensive library of reports

The cons: reports are not organized in a user-friendly way, requires adding a simple script to html or CMS.

Europe

Going to London on business.

Will be stopping in Paris and visiting with family over the weekend. Weather, in both cities, calls for rain, more rain, and then some more rain.

More bad news….Heathrow security is so tight now that hardly anything can be carried on – this means that my camera has to be checked – which means risk of damage and theft….but what the hell….no way rain or security are going to stop me from taking photos in these two Capitals….I won’t shoot in the rain (don’t want the Nikon to short out) but it can’t rain non-stop…or can it?

I have to pack. I need a clear plastic bag to put all my belongings in – wallet, passport, some advil. They didn’t say you can bring books or magazines…but I’ll take a chance…I doubt a rolled up newspaper would make an effective weapon on a plane.

I’d like to read Angels and Demons on the oh so long flight…never got to finish it. Read the da Vinci code (takes place in Paris) and went to Italy. Now I’m going to read the first novel (takes place in Rome) and I’m going to Paris – I guess I’ve got it backwards!

Between the DF terrorists and the SF who went on a shooting spree in downtown Montreal yesterday I have to conclude we live in one sick world. Oh well, maybe things will get better when Hillary becomes president…not sure if Americans are ready for a woman..but anything would be an improvement over the cowboy.