Pinoy Geek

The life of a geek in Manila-and points after.

Blog Archive


Tech Deal of the Month

Octagon in Megamall is selling a wireless keyboard with built-in pointer for PHP850+. Original price was PHP2K+. It works well enough (RF)--I have it hooked to the SFF PC hooked up to our TV in the living room and it works from 15 feet away--we live in a condo, so that's the farthest I'd get away from it.
Curses You Floating Tectonic Plates!!!

It has been three weeks since a major earthquake off Taiwan caused major headaches for most of Asia. The first two weeks were spent focused on work of course. Now I'm just not happy that my supposedly fat DSL connection is still slower than my dial-up connection from 10 years ago.

At least my podcasts are starting to slowly come in...groan.
Cebu Aftermath

What a month. I haven't gotten much free time since we got back from Cebu--just to tie things up:

- My tripod got back whole and alive, both ways. Going home, I packed the legs in with the rest of the checked-in.
- Mactan was pretty okay--at least what we saw of it. Getting connected though (at least finding a FREE connection) was somewhat difficult, thus the lack of updates.
- I still have 5GB's worth of photos from the trip. And I just realized I'm regressing--photography-wise. I'm now back to my bad old habit of shooting and not "developing". Oh well when I get breathing time.


Consuelo de Bobo

The departure area has Airborne Access--and wow, the DL speeds are incredible. I'm currently sucking down the second episode of Heroes at 98kbps.

Ok 98kbps may not seem impressive to you white-men, but here in the boondocks, any public hotspot that goes over 20kbps gets a pin on Google Earth.

Moi at the departure courtesy of the built-in webcam on my S96J

How Does A Pinoy Geek Travel?

The wife and I are flying out to Mactan this PM for two days of train-ing...woopee :-)

Spent 15 minutes before lunch picking which clothes I'll be wearing for the next 48 hours. Then I spent about 45 minutes packing my "gear"--shows my priorities right?

On the list:
  • Notebook (Asus S96J--not office issued--my work notebook's battery does not charge anymore but I refuse to get it changed until they switch to a more robust brand) plus associated accessories (power adapter, plug adapter--the type that always gets lost, so I have two of them, RJ-45 cable--ya never know when you'll need it, microfiber cloth for the screen, various accroutements to get stuff connected to the notebook--sync cable for Nokia N60, mini-usb to USB cable for DSLR and card reader, USB hub, blah blah)--I need to do a mini-review of this notebook sometime--I love it. I chose getting a Macbook over it!
  • DSLR - Nikon D200 with 3 lenses--10.5mm fisheye, 35-70/2.8 and 105mm Micro with 5GB worth of CF cards, charger for the battery, CPL, QR plate, 308s light meter, mini-tripod. All lenses were packed in individual socks.
  • Tripod - Manfrotto 055ProB legs with 141 3-way head. I agonized over bringing this--on one hand, there's a very high probability they won't allow the legs on the plane and I'll have to check it, which puts it in serious jeopardy--and I may not need the legs at all. On the other hand, you never know when you need a tripod, and we'll be staying at a pretty nice place (photo-wise) so...I decided to bring it. I disassembled the head, packed the individual pieces into my carry-on, and will risk the legs being checked (more on this later--I am writing this in departure area). The legs are pretty darn short with the head removed, so there's a good chance they'll let me carry it onboard.
  • Other stuff: first aid kit, small wad of duct tape, rain covers for the bags, other things I won't probably need but will hit myself on the head if I do need them (e.g. mini-folding umbrella, cleaning items for my SLR, enough songs and podcasts on my N60 to last me through a 5 hour delay)
  • A shemagh, a "Geek" cap, my 2 year old pair of Rudy Project Kerosenes
Everything's packed in my Crumpler (The Cashmere Blazer).

When we get to the airport, the departure board does not have our flight listed yet. Not a good sign--we're either too early, or our flight's delayed (or worse, cancelled). Turns out we're too early.

So far, so good.

Gwen asks the agent at the nearest counter if we can check in, and they say yes, pick any free counter.

Wow, no need to even line up at a proper queue.

We find a counter with no line--and the agent says, sir, make sure there are no cables on your carry on. (They're afraid someone will get strangled using a USB cable.)

Fine, I packed all the cables one pouch, easy enough to move to our check-in.

And oh, sir, you'll have to check your tripod legs. We're afraid you may bash someone's head in with them.

Screwed, big time.

I tell the agent, I'm afraid they may get dinged or bent. He said, no problem, we'll mark them for special handling.

"Special handling"--I wonder what that means (visions of aluminum legs being lovingly carressed by baggage boys flash through my head).

Hmmm, it's not like I have a choice.

I reluctantly take off the carrying strap and tape the legs together. I discover that my wad of duct tape finally ran out (I've been wondering for the past 2 years when it would run out--it had to be at this moment). The agent helpfully gave me some of their own tape and I taped the ends of the legs together.

Handed them over to the agent, who taped a fragile sticker and set it aside away from the other checked items for "special handling".

Is this goodbye? Will I see you again? Abangan.

(And does Gwen care? Not a bit. Here she is watching House in the departure area while I agonize over my legs.)


3 Months in the Dark Side

It has been 3 months since I took the leap into the Dark Side. For those of you (all 4 f you) who don't know what that means, it means joining the Nikon camp. And it should be obvious that I came from the Canon camp, because only those who lust for the red ring would consider themselves the Light to other side's Darkness.

La Trinidad de Gabriel - Nikon D200 with 50mm f/1.8 AF-D

I had a good sum of money invested in Canon equipment, having stuck with the brand for over 6 years. As any switcher will tell you, it's something that you think not only twice, thrice or even four times about--the decision consumes your soul until you finally take the plunge (or decide not to.) I probably lost about 2o to 30% of my investment cost when I swiched, and the I knew I was going to--ganyan talaga. Now the next question is, was it worth it?

I can honestly say that I think the decision to switch was worth it--for ME. Do I recommend that everyone move over to the Nikon camp if they could? No--not really. Do I recommend first time buyers to consider Nikon? Wholeheartedly.

Anniversary - Nikon D200 with 105mm Micro-Nikkor f/4 - Manual Focus

Why did I switch in the first place? It all boils down to one model: the Nikon D200. Before everyone brands me a D200 zealot and swiches over to YouTube, give me a few more minutes to share my reasons. I wholeheartedly subscribe to the following schools of thought:
  • It's not in the pana, it's in the Indian (or more formally stated, it's what is between and behind the eyes that matters)
  • It's not the body, it's in the system
Let me jump ahead to my specific reasons:
  1. The Nikon D200 is one of the most user-friendly cameras I have ever used. It has a button for most of the controls I need--I do not need to dive down into any menu for most of the controls. ISO, WB, Quality Settings, Drive Mode, AF Mode, Metering Mode, Flash Compensation, Two Command Dials, AF Point Selection--everything has a specific button or switch to itself.
  2. The D200 has better weather sealing compared to the equivalent Canon models (5D, 30D). I'm not a NatGeo photographer, but I live in the Philippines, where you don't only have to contend with rain half of the year, but the occasional boat ride, river crossing and/or kapitbahay-throwing-the-contents-of-their-arinola-outside-the-window. I can take urine raining down on me--I doubt my old 350D could.
  3. The D200 can use virtually all the lenses that had Nikkor stamped on it in the past 30 years--with metering! Since I acquired the D200, I have found several good deals on secondhand glass--quality glass mind you, that I would have a hard time finding equivalents on the Light Side. And I have not even tried looking that hard at all.
  4. Minor reasons:
    • Auto ISO--enough said. Ok, Nikon handles noise a bit differently than Canon, and I will say that Canon's images look cleaner at anything above ISO1200, but Auto ISO rocks (unless you forget to turn it off in the studio--doh!).
    • Flash commander mode--the Canon ST-E2 costs PHP9K. That's a 4GB CF card right there. Or half of an SB800 (which used to cost comparitively cheaper to Canon's 580EX--but admittedly not anymore).
    • Programmable Function button--can you say spot meter on demand?
    • It took Nikon more than 3 years to come up with the D200 (from the D100). Canon cranks out new models like there's no tomorrow. While I wouldn't bet that the D200's replacement won't come until 2008, I have a feeling (call it a Fuji-S5-Pro-feeling) that we'll get to enjoy the D200 as long as the D100.
I think I've already touched upon the non-D200 specific reasons--so it should be obvious that it's not really a D200 lovefest. I love my 105mm f/4 Micro manual focus--I love the 35-70/2.8 that I got from Ken. The capacity to even look at the second hand glass available in Hidalgo and go back 30 years is very much appreciated. I am looking forward to acquiring a pair of SB800's when the budget allows and using flash commander mode, which btw, is also available in the D80 (take that 400D and 30D!).

Bagyo 1 - Nikon D200 with 105mm Micro-Nikkor f/4 - Manual Focus

Am I gushing? No not really. I do have some gripes. For one, the lens cap and body caps don't lock. Ok I'm kidding--there were adjustment issues, and there are some issues to be resolved:

Adjustment issues:
  • All the lens controls are reversed. This includes zooming on zoom lenses, focusing, and the most confusing during the first few weeks: mounting and un-mounting lenses. It took me a while to get used to the polar difference between Canon EF-mount and Nikon whatever-mount difference. Not a monumental problem really.
  • Lack of Canon-equivalent-bundled software. C'mon Nikon, why can't you give us Nikon Capture along with the body? I don't really need it, but if Sandisk can bundle Capture One (albeit the LE version) along with a 2GB CF card that cost a fraction of a D200, why can't you support the serious hobbyist by giving us the software along with the body? The pro's can afford the $99--I'd rather spend it on flash or other accessories.
  • Smaller secondhand market. I admit, I do envy the Light Side--if you look at the traffic in the local forums, the Canon secondhanders positively flood the market with great deals. On the other hand, it could mean something else...
Gripes and/or concerns that have not gone away:
  • This nagging feeling that I may need Marvin Plaza-level support someday. But hey, I'm a hobbyist.
  • Accessories cost an arm and a leg. Remote shutter release? Cheapest 1st party one costs $100. My remote trigger for the 350D was just $20. Granted, it would not work on the 30D and 5D anyway, which the D200 goes against. The battery grip costs an arm and a leg too. And the battery: no 3rd party availability because of the fancy monitoring funcitons built into the new ENL3whatever battery.
  • Minor: the Nikkor 50mm/1.8 costs almost 50% more than the Canon equivalent. Granted, it is better looking. But it's not the plastic that takes the light in does it?
Again, overall I am happy Dark Side camper. The switch was worth the agony of saying goodbye to my old system. But again, it's not for everyone--if you don't have more than one compelling reason to switch--don't. In the end it's a matter of personal taste and mindset--heck I know people who maintain both systems--but the clincher is they can afford it (as in they-crap-money-can-afford-it). For us empleyados, just stick with the system that keeps you happy.

On the other hand, if you're jumping on the DSLR wagon, the D80 does look mighty interesting.... ;-)

Bagyo 2 - Nikon D200 with 105mm Micro-Nikkor f/4 - Manual Focus

About Me

email me at arvinyason at gmail dot com