Categories
My Life

iLife ’09

So I’ve had iLife ’09 for about a week now and have been using it heavily. About the only 2 things I use in this though are iPhoto and iMovie. Both of which are a HUGE improvement over what was previously there.

However, iPhoto is missing a TON of features.

  • Very SLOW! – Faces and Places are both VERY VERY slow. When I add new photos, it takes FOREVER to find the faces, etc.
  • Additional Faces / Missing Faces – It’d be nice if when I click the “Add missing faces” iPhoto attempts to locate missing faces. Also, I wish that you could add the box, and then just CLICK in the Name area to name it, instead of having to click “Done” and then click again to name someone. Another thing is it’d be nice if there were a way to tag “Other people in this photo”. IE people who might not be exactly FACING the camera, but are IN the photo.
  • Smart filters for Places and Faces – These need to be expanded a LOT. I’ve always found iPhoto’s smart filters lacking and now they are missing even MORE features. I wish I could find photos who have a face but are not labeled. I wish that the Smart filters for places were much smarter. Some photos DO have geotagging, but they are not “apple’s” geotags, so it counts those as not having GEO info! Very annoying.
  • Delete from Albums, Smart Albums – I use albums, not events, to manage my photos. This is how I like to do it, I find it MUCH easier to organize. I have folders for each year and then albums in those folders for each event. I also use Smart filters a lot to find photos. But you cannot EASILY move images from the albums to the trash. Give me the ABILITY to do that with a warning or something at least.
  • REMOVE BACKUPS! – This is something people have been wanting FOREVER! I currently have 19,717 photos in my library, at 37.6Gb. But my iPhoto library takes up a whopping 51.73Gb!!! This is insane. I want to recover all the space from images that are duplicates (backups/etc). If I make edits to a photo 5-8 years ago. I don’t really CARE about keeping the original. LET ME DELETE THEM!
  • I haven’t really used iMovie too much yet, but one really annoying thing that I was hoping would be there was the ability to edit background music from within iMovie. Currently if I have a track in the background and want to quickly cut out portions of it, I have to open the audio track in another program and edit those sections out. It’s just very cumbersome. I hope that they continue to make HUGE strides in iMovie they way they have in this last release!

Categories
Around The Globe My Life

Napa Valley Trip!

I love three day weekends…

This past weekend we had a great time. First was Jason’s birthday party on Friday. We had a great time, but left early. I felt bad about leaving so early, oh well.

Saturday morning we got up early and headed out to Napa Valley. On the way up there we stopped at Pinnacles National Monument. The drive from the freeway to the monument was tons of fun. But we only spent about an hour there. It was pretty and I’d like to spend a little more time there.

Got up to Napa late that night, went out to eat and while we were
eating this girl next to us saw that we were looking over maps and stuff and talked to us about the winery she worked at called Mumm Napa.

Sunday morning we got up and headed out at 9ish. Our first stop was a few parks and what not. First was Bothe-Napa Valley SP. It was a nice park, but nothing exciting. After that we headed to the Old Faithful of California. That was also fun, but again not that exciting. It was neat to ee though. Then we headed to the petrified forest. Here’s a pic of Const at the Petrified Forest:

From there we headed out to the winery’s! First was Sterling, which was probably my favorite in terms of the overall experience. First you arrive and take a tram ride up the side of the hill to the top of the winery. You are greeted with your first wine tasting and then you go on a self-guided tour of the winery. Here’s a shot of the HUGE wood barrels they ferment the wine in:

As you make your way through the winery you get to try a few different wines, on the balcony you get some wonderful views of the valley and you can just chill and talk and drink your wine.

Once you get through the winery you can take a seat in the main building and you get to try three more wines. On the day we were there they had some AMAZING Truffles there as well from a company called Truffle Gateau. I HIGHLY suggest going and buying some of them!

After this place we headed out and and drove to Burgess Cellers. Apparently you needed reservations or something, because the guy seemed very confused that we just walked into the door that said “OPEN”. So we just left. Headed from there to Sutter Home, which we went to because I really liked the building. Tried a few wines, but nothing I really liked.

Headed from there to V. Sattui Winery. This was another GREAT winery. But only because of all the foods and cheese they had at the shop. Oh my god. The cheese was wonderful! We also ended up buying 6 bottles of wine from them. From there we headed to Mumm beacuse of the girl we met. We didn’t taste anything there, but saw the art gallery and bought two small bottles of wine just for the hell of it

Our last stop of the day was Peju (only because it was basically the only one open past 5). I really enjoyed the modern art they had outside, inside we found this great pic which is just exactly like Tuxedo!! How cute:=

We got a great guy to taste with and basically a private tasting room because they were so busy! We bought two bottles of the Provence wine which was really good.

But this whole wine tasting thing. I really don’t get it. “In this wine you’ll taste hints of bannana and mango and this and that and the bottom half is a little bit sassy!”. Umm, really!? WTF!

We went home and were just so tired from all the tasting that we went to the hot tub and then just ate dinner and hung out at the hotel for the night.

Monday we headed home and stopped at the Golden Gate bridge for some pics.

From there we headed south to the Winchester Mystery House. This place was really cool. Very crazy stuff.

Of course, you can download our Google Earth Tracks here or you can download our GeoTagged photos here.

And photos of the trip are all here.

Categories
Around The Globe

Rustic Canyon Nazi Camp – Winona Stephens Complex

This past weekend Constantine and I explored a few different areas of abandoned LA. First we went to the Griffith Park Old LA Zoo. On Sunday we went to the Rustic Canyon Nazi Camp up in Pacific Palisades.

In the early 1930’s Winona Stephens, a heir to a mining fortune created the Murphy Ranch on 50 secluded acres near what is now Topanga State Park. The person in charge of building all this was a Nazi spy named Schmidt. Herr Schmidt persuaded Stephens to invest more than $4 million to create a self-supporting community where a chosen few would live until the day anarchy fell on the United States after a presumed Nazi victory over England.

By 1940, they had built a garage with living quarters overhead, a huge concrete water tank, a diesel fuel tank and a dual-generator power station. Stephens, Schmidt and 50 other future master racers lived on the site, cultivating a vegetable garden and waiting for the New World Order. Guards stood at the gates, and the sounds of military drills often rang through the canyon.

The day after the United States entered World War II, Schmidt was arrested by the FBI and the community soon began to disintegrate. Now the buildings lie in ruins, littered with the remains of bonfires and plastered with graffiti, including swastikas. The canyon walls above are cut by four staircases of crumbling, treacherous concrete.

To get to Murphy Ranch, park at the corner of Capri road and Casale. Hike down the dirt/paved fire road which can been seen google maps here. You wil have to go around a gate to Camp Josepho.

The main gate to the complex is about a mile up the road from where the fire road starts, however if you keep an eye out you will see a set of stairs heading down into the canyon about 7tenths of a mile from the start. You can either take these or continue on to the main gate. You can easily walk around the gate and follow the road down behind. About .2 mile down the road will split. You can take either direction to get to the camp. We went to the left which lead to the main pumping/power station and an old garage/house.

You can still see many of the flowers and trees which were planted by the group back in the days. They continue to bloom on their own each year. It really is pretty amazing how well this is all being preserved even though it’s open to the elements and human destruction. The power plant is COVERED in graffiti, and the pits where pumps were once housed are now home to mounds and mounds of trash and empty beer cans.

Someone has even gone to the trouble of creating an artistic sculpture out of a bunch of old trash and building parts. Continue following the small trail past the old garage and once it ends, follow the river for a while. You will come across a very well preserved building which is enclosed in fencing. Here you will find the other end of the main gate’s road. You can either take this back up or continue to explore.

We didn’t have any more time once we got here, so we headed back up the road. But you can be sure that I will be back there soon to finish exploring this huge Nazi complex!

You can download or tracks for Google Earth here, and see just how easy it is to see. This is easily a 3 mile hike, but you could make it much much more. Take your time and enjoy it. We even saw a few people having a picnic down there!

Our pictures of the Rustic Canyon Nazi Camp are here. Or you can view the GoogleEarth GeoTagged photos here. Lastly you can view the other hard data from the weekend here.

Here’s some more references:
Nazi Commune Ruins
Rustic Canyon Local Hikes
I Hate Illinois Nazis

Categories
Around The Globe

Old LA Zoo – Griffith Park

This past weekend, Constantine and I set out to go exploring a few different abandoned areas of Los Angeles, we started out with the one we thought would be the easiest to find and sure enough it was.

The Old LA Zoo first opened in Griffith Park in 1913, the zoo didn’t do very good and had many animal escapes and was poorly funded, during world war I many of the animals died due to food rationing. In 1965, the zoo was moved to it’s present location just south of where this one is located. This past year during the Griffith park fires, the old zoo was nearly destroyed, thankfully it survived the fires and is still amazingly well kept.

We headed up the I-5 early Saturday morning and got off at the first Griffith park exit and parked in the Merry-Go-Round parking lot. Head back across the street and up the road (away from the merry-go-round). Here you will find a trail that heads to the right along the ridge and through some trees. Go up the trail just a little ways and you will find the first group of buildings. It’s really very easy to get too. This is the back side of what appeared to be the Lion cages. There were plenty of holes in the fence that you can get through to climb around. In fact the day we were there there was some group filming a movie, which included a large fake tiger!

We continued to hike around for a while and found a few different ways to get there. In fact if you don’t want to go through the hiking part, you can actually get to the front of the zoo by going around the Merry-Go-Round to the right of the parking lot and then just follow the larger parking lot to the left.

You can download or tracks for Google Earth here, and see just how easy it is to see. You could easily spend 30 minutes or a few hours exploring this old compound and the areas around it.

Our pictures of the Old LA Zoo are here. Or you can view the GoogleEarth GeoTagged photos here. Lastly you can view the other hard data from the weekend here.

Here’s some more references:
Marilyn Carolyn
Boing Boing
Zoo Zoo Zoo

On the way home we saw this cute little PokeMan bug… Crazy LA people:

(Notice the mini one on the dashboard!)

Categories
Around The Globe My Life

Death Valley!

What a weekend!

Friday night was the typical Dinner with friends. We all met up at Jason’s house and he had Meatballs cooking. However, he was no where to be found! So we made the rest of the dinner and ate it without him. He showed up just as we were finishing dinner. Overall it was a great night. Jason got me a Gift card to Apple for my birthday!

Saturday morning Const and I got up and headed out to Death Valley. On the way there we stopped at Randsburg and Alotia mines. They are both abandoned mines/towns. Very cool. Alotia was the only one that was open for us to really run around in. It’s just amazing to me that RIGHT off the road way are these open pit mines with ladders and stuff still leading down them. We didn’t go down the mines because we didn’t have any safety gear. Perhaps on the next trip we can actually go down them.

From there we headed through some tiny little crazy towns and out to Death Valley. First thing we did was climb the sand dunes which was really cool. Then we headed out to the Badwater Salt flats which is exactly what I was expecting Death Valley to be like. They were sooo cool. We got there right at sunset, so it was really pretty to watch the sunset over the salt flats. I really want to go back there on a full moon night some summer to see how pretty it would be with all the stars and stuff. After that we headed back to the hotel, ate dinner and then went to bed.

Sunday we got up and had breakfast and then headed out to Zabriskie Point which was just a wonderful view of the valley in the early morning. We didn’t stay too long because the wind was CRAZY and it was freezing cold. We headed down the back road from there and stopped at some more abandoned mines. These were really cool and it was a HUGE complex of mines. We went into a few of them, but not very far because it’s very scary with only the two of us and we had very week flashlights. Perhaps when we go back with a bigger group we can do them again. I really enjoyed the mines.

From there we headed down to Dante’s View which was a really cool overlook of the Badwater salt flats we had been at the day before. We headed on down back into the valley and on our way out stopped at an old Borax mine which had been preserved by the park.

There are tons of other things I want to do while there, like Racing Rocks, Scotty’s Castle, and the Crater. But we didn’t have a 4 wheel drive vehicle to take off road. This really does suck with us both having new cars, we don’t want to take them off onto dirt/gravel roads! I was thinking that maybe I can find a truck that I like, or maybe just a cheap user explorer or something that we can take on trips like this.

On the way home I got a very upsetting phone call from my cousin. My grandma was on her way home from Des Moines when she got into some bad snow, lost control of her car and hit a semi head on. Thank god she’s ok. They took her to the hospital because she was sore and they kept her overnight. They were supposed to be doing another CAT scan today but I haven’t heard anything new. I’ve tried calling a few times to her cell phone, but no answer. I assume she’s probably pretty out of it. Just hearing the news made me cry a little, but since I was driving I had to really hold it back. I’m very interested to see pictures of the car though.

The drive home was pretty good though overall. We ran into some REALLY bad dust storms, it was nearly whiteout conditions. And then some rain, but no traffic which was really nice. Got back to my house and the power was out, so we had to make due for a few hours before that came back on.

Today I am working from home. My car is supposed to be done. I sure HOPE that it does get done. I want my car back!

Photos from the weekend are here.

I did the GeoTagging again on this trip and it turned out MUCH BETTER! Download the Google Earth file here, check out the Google Maps Version (without photos) here or check out all the different files here.