Gecko Peter Parker

Last night, I was driving alone down the highway into a headwind and a small gecko suddenly appeared on the outside of the windshield, probably blown up through the bodywork from wherever he was chilling down below.

Geckos are good to have in your car because they eat bugs and are just cool to watch, but it sucks when they die inside because they stink for ages. Anyway, I have always been fascinated by their sticky feet. I decided to test just how much grip they have by flooring it. I got to about 170 km/h when he suddenly crouched down low in a spiderman pose and leaped off the side of the windshield. The thing is, I have a feeling that the wind carried him into the open window. If so, I hope the little guy eats his share of the mosquitoes that torture Mina in the back… and eventually dies peacefully outside.

Essentially Isan


This was taken last week at Rajabhat Maha Sarakham, my university, at a welcoming ceremony for freshmen (aka “freshies” in Thailand). In the foreground, English program students are praying during a traditional bai sri ceremony around a Christmas tree-shaped arrangement of folded banana leaves, as other students play takraew on the courts in the background and molam blasts from the unseen stage to the left.

Mango Season in Thailand

Mango (not mamuang noi) taken with the "dreamy" filter on my camera phone.

April, May, and June are mango season here. Everybody who grows them at home brings them into the office or to their friends before the fruit gets too ripe. The coolest thing is that there are over a hundred different species grown and sold here in Thailand. I’ve probably tried about a third of them. To date, the best kind I’ve had are small ones that people grow in their backyards and sell at weekend fresh markets, known generically as mamuang noi (small mango). They have the perfect blend of sweet, tart, and wild flavors, and are at once slightly chewy yet soft.

Spraying insecticide, again

When I ventured out this morning to buy the kid’s breakfast, sticky rice and barbecued pork skewers (which have gone up in price universally to 5 baht per skewer — they were still 3 baht at some places up until a couple months ago), I drove though a fog hovering in the neighborhood behind ours. Even with the windows closed, I got a whiff of Raid and realized they were fumigating the area again. I hurriedly went to buy the food — in an yet unsprayed area — and rushed back home.

Nam said she’d just heard a pickup driving around blasting a message from the local government, so that meant they were coming to spray at our house, too. It was just past 7:30, about an hour before we usually take Max to school near our house, and Mina to her school near Nam’s university. But the spray man was coming, so we had to get them out. I got them dressed while Nam packed their bags, then I got them in the car and strapped them in their seats. I got the car running and pulled it out onto the street in front of the house, pointed away from the direction they were coming. Nam came running out with the bags, got in the car and pulled away… I stood there watching them leave in my boxers, and exactly one minute later heard the sound of insect doom:


iPad 2 Camera vs. Kodak DC120 (2011 Apple tech vs. 1997 SOA tech)

The Kodak DC120 was the first megapixel camera I owned. I got it back in 1998 or so and maybe sprung for an enormous 4Mb compact flash card as well, to add to the industry-leading 2Mb internal memory in the camera (enough to store 2 whole photos in RAW mode, but they didn’t call it RAW yet, it was simply described as uncompressed).

After I posted about the iPad 2 yesterday and decided against pitting its hapless camera against the one on my phone, I realized that I might have photos in my archives with which the iPad2’s test photo could be compared. My digicam archives go back to 1998, spanning those years with shots from different models of Nikon, Canon, Olympus, Sony, Ricoh, Sanyo, Kyocera, Panasonic, Fuji, Casio, Toshiba, Leica (!!), and numerous spotty models of indeterminate Chinese/Taiwanese/Korean manufacture (I even have shots from a camera that apparently embedded a paid porn site URL in the EXIF data — can’t figure out who’s camera it was, though). All of these cameras proved to be more capable than the iPad 2’s camera(s). Finally, browsing through some shots with the Kodak DC120 that Nam took in Yasothon Province, Thailand, during the annual banfai rocket festival, back in 1999, I found some comparable shots taken on an overcast day. Here’s one:

Cropped image at 1:1


The iPad 2 photos from yesterday’s post:

Cropped image at 1:1

Aside from the lighting, I think the state of the art digital camera from 1997 actually stands up fairly well with the best-selling tablet computer* of today.

*Apple says it isn’t a tablet computer (“It’s not a tablet, it’s iPad 2″), so maybe we can classify it as a “touchscreen-operated computing device with highly-intuitive software and two shitty cameras pointing both front and rear for all your shitty photography needs (although it’s not made for taking photos).”

Apple iPad 2 Camera Review

In a thousand words:

The small size of this thumbnail hides the poor quality of the image at its true resolution. You can click the image above to see that, too, but just in case you’re too lazy:

Cropped image at 1:1

I was actually going to post a comparison photo from my HTC Desire HD, but I didn’t realize that the whole world already knows about this issue. The sad thing is, this is the higher spec camera of the two on the iPad2. And the best response I saw from a fanboy on an Apple forum said something about this device not being made for taking photos. It has two cameras that takes stills, yo — it is made for taking photos.

On the other hand, the camera on the iPhone seems very good — I’ll see a friend who has one tomorrow, so maybe I’ll test it out against my Desire HD.