Reloaded Blog

Monday, November 27, 2006

Birthdays and Concerts

Another eventful weekend in Adelaide. It was a friends 24th birthday on Saturday and on the Sunday I ended up at the biannual French festival with a few very good musicians in the picturesque settings of Carrick Hill.

Isaac sure looks happy to be 24. Check out the relaxed stance.

The bands and musicians I got to listen to included Arnaud Dumond, Matmatah and the talented Yann Tiersen. For the first time I heard a guitar being drummed and not only strummed and a drill accompanying the guitar on stage.

After jumping around all afternoon I got really tired and called it quits after a round of baguettes with blue cheese and barbecued sausages.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Safari in Maasai Mara

The trip to Mara leads west from Nairobi through mostly dry scrub land. Going through the spectacular Rift Valley then passing through Narok - a big town suddenly in the middle of the desolate wasteland.

Then onwards through unmarked roads in the Nyika to the Mara Sopa lodge - with its nice semi-circular rooms and largely french clientèles. The view from the room is not much different from theAustralian bush land I am used to seeing. May be a bit drier with more cacti and acacia , no eucalypts. The lodge is on top of a hill, the vistas spread out before it, a children's sized pool caters for the whims of the European tourists unused to the heat. After arriving people rush off in their sarongs to the pool.

The dining room and lunch are an elaborate affair with Sh200 per bottle of water. There seems to be a global tourist exchange rate measured in units of bottled water.

At 4pm we rushed for the game drive. The grazers are in plenty, the black mass of wildebeest are impressive only for so long. In addition there are herds of antelopes, zebras and some elusive eland mingling among them. The carnivores take it easy with plenty of food roaming about. A pride of lions was fast asleep until one of them came up to pose on the hillock. We caught a youngish leopard by surprise and surrounded him with the tourist vans, until he found a gap and made a run for it. The only other member of the big five who made an appearance was a buffalo carcass.

I hardly slept at night in anticipation for an early start the next day. We started buzzing around at about 4am, We were ready after a morning coffee by 6am to hit the safari trail again. Hopefully we shall see the "hunt" mom has been obsessing about. Second trip to the park turned out to be quite eventful. Hordes or is it prides of lionesses made an appearance. One lioness stalked some zebras and was nearly ready to pounce when the multitude of tourists Intervened with cumulative noise. Buffaloes finally appeared in flesh and very much alive, with calves and all.

Made a trip to the fake manyatta near the hotel to buy some Maasai beads and artifacts. The huts are really small and cozy and dark and i guess smelling of animals when the maasai actually live in them. Ended up buying some beads and a bead and lions tooth necklace, which the seller vehemently denied being plastic when I suggested in passing that i will pass it as plastic to get it into Australia through quarantine.

The last game drive was quite fruitful. We sighted elephants mud bathing and giraffes walking about as if they own the world. Two prides of lions were lazing around and showed no interest in massive herds of buffaloes grazing a few feet away.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Asiyekujua hakuthamini

I am finally back in Adelaide from the couple of weeks away in Kenya. It feels good to be back and most of all to have the net again. I did not know how much I had grown accustomed to the connectivity and being in touch with myriads of people.

The title points to a proverb in Kiswahili meaning those that do not know you can't appreciate your worth. I had a small incident on my jet lagged night out which bears this out. Kenya being 7:30 hrs behind time, my body is still awake late into the night. So i went dancing in one of the clubs, "Sugar". I met a girl and we danced salsa for quite a while, since that is the only dance I know sort of well and I dance it or some variation no matter what the music. Anyway afterwards when we were getting some water her lawyer friend came up and refused to believe flat out that I grew up in Kenya and actually dragged her away saying, "Better luck with the next girl."


I rest my case. More Kenyan Safari stories coming up, stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Airport Passtime

I caught a cheap and early flight to Melbourne on my way. So I have a long wait. I decided to pass the time by starting on the redesign of the Worldwind Measure tool with the new Vector rendering classes. I have been planning this for some time , but have not gotten around to. Hopefully I will try to get a basic alternative done before I arrive in Nairobi.

I also made a few random sketches of people at the Airport. I am posting a sample here.

Via Virtual Earth via Worldwind

The Casey Chestnut VE Plugin for Worldwind is finally fixed for the new camera jitter code and in SVN under the unstable tree. So what is special about this ?

It looks like Microsoft has got a better deal with its satellite data vendor - GeoEye than Google - Digital Globe and Microsoft lawyers are allowing non-commercial, again strictly non-commercial usage of the plugin in Worldwind to show off Virtual Earth until the wonderful people at Redmond come up with their own virtual world respositioning any of the plethora of bits of code they have lying around, be it Mappoint, be it Flight Sim X. I would really love to see what Microsoft has to offer in the time-space model arena.

Another issue comes to mind along with this, why are the satellite vendors selling enter archives to Google-Yahoo-Microsoft instead of using their distribution network to sell scenes as they have always done? Are they not shooting themselves in the foot lowering the value of their data? I believe that is not the case they are gaining a lot of Market reach they could not gain with traditional sales teams. More people are now aware of the availability and quality of the high resolution satellite data and those who were going to buy a raw scene for a special purpose and scientific analysis in the high end are going to do so anyway at $6000 or so at a pop.

It also appears that GeoEye has been eating its cake and having it too, they have been selling imagery to both Microsoft and Yahoo. Not over the same areas though and sometimes not the same scenes, but Yahoo effectively has better coverage over Nairobi, CapeTown and Jo'Burg with Ikonos - Places I am heading to right now. Someone ask the Yahoo lawyers and make us a plugin.

I am off to my holidays for now. See you all later.