The Three Amigos

After much convincing, the third partner in my trip is finally on board. Quinn’s actually been onboard for a while, he just finally purchased his ticket today…which means that he’s really on board now.

Charlie’s the the other partner on this trip. He’ll be joining me in Istanbul on 22 June, while Quinn won’t be joining us until around 10 July in Switzerland.

All three of us met tonight to get some logistics figure out. I think it was productive, at least as far as any meeting can be. Charlie’s going to be figuring out how to get us from Turkey to Greece, in addition to what where we’ll be going. Meanwhile, I’ll be figuring out where Charlie and I will be sleeping while in Istanbul and Cappadocia.

Italy is more or less figured out.

For Switzerland, I think the plan is to work our way from the southwest to the northeast, going through Interlaken, Lucerne, and St. Gallen.

Austria’s also mostly planed out.

With only four days left, I’ve finally started to pack. I have most of my stuff already, which just a few small things to pick up here and there. I’ll be releasing an updated itinerary and packing list in the next couple of days.

P.S. Quinn’s on the left, Charlie’s on the right.

Technology Understanding Fail

One of the great things, I think, about today’s current state of technology is that if there’s something that I need and it doesn’t exist, I can create it. Case in point, there was a group1 who added and published MP3’s to their website on a weekly basis, but had no Podcast to distribute it. Thus, if I wanted to listen to these audio files on my iPod, I would have to manually download it every week, add it to my iTunes, and then sync to my iPod.

Of course, I would not stand for this. So I wrote a simple script that would check for a new audio file on this groups server2, download the files to my server, and the generate the appropriate XML needed to bring the file into iTunes. Insta-podcast.

Anyway, being the nice and sharing guy that I am, I decided to unleash my little XML podcast feed to the world. And all was well. A few people found it, including the Apple iTunes store, and I was pretty content. Eventually the group get’s their act together and publishes their own XML podcast feed. I see this and do something called a “301 Moved Permanently” redirect. In short, if you were using my XML podcast feed, your program got a nice message that says, “Hey! What you were looking for isn’t over here anymore, it’s over there. Furthermore, it’s never coming back here, so you should just always go check over there from now on.” I figure cool, I did something good. They never notice (which is how it should be). All is right with the world.

Well, a couple years after all this goes down, I get an email:

Hi,

I recently found out that you submitted the ABC podcast to iTunes. While I am sure you were doing this to be helpful, it does not allow us to edit the submitted podcast in iTunes. We need to be able to do this, please remove the podcast so that we can submit it ourselves.

Thank You,

Bob

I do some poking around and, to humor the guy, send a request to the iTunes Music Store requesting that the feed be removed. Remember, I’ve done a “301 Moved Permanently,” so I shouldn’t be having this issue. Just to be sure, I remove everything…including the redirect. Any future requests for this resource will now result in “404 File Not Found” error.

A couple months go by, and I get another email from the guy.

Andrew,

I just checked the podcast again, and it is still listed under your e-mail address in the iTunes store. Would you mind following up with Apple?

Thanks,

Bob

At this point, I know the problem can’t possible be on my end. It has to be this guys problem. So I do some more checking and research. And respond back:

Bob,

I did some poking around and here’s what I’m thinking. The podcast has been completely removed from my site for several weeks now and accessing it produces a 404 error (whereas it used to just be a 301 – Moved Permantely redirect). However, when I check iTunes, I see the latest podcasts. This makes me believe that iTunes is in fact fetching the content from your server and not mine.

Looking at the XML formatting for your podcast (http://www.abc.com/podcast/meetings/meetings.xml), I noticed that you are not using the iTunes specific tags (http://www.apple.com/itunes/store/podcaststechspecs.html), specifically the “<itunes:author>” tag.

My thinking is that iTunes has decided to cache the information and that’s what you’re seeing. If you were to update your XML file with the iTunes specific tags, you should be all set.

Does that make sense?

I check the next day and the data on iTunes had been updated. I never did hear back from Bob.

About a year later, the group decides they’re going to outsource their entire podcast to another company. They post a podcast say, “Hey, we’ve moved feeds…here’s how to find us again.” Which is fine, I guess3. However, there was a much better way. I did a bit of research (seriously, about five minutes) and sent Bob another email:

Bob,

I noticed that you guys changed the URL for the podcast and are asking people to resubscribe. As a thought, you could set the current podcast URL send a 301 – Moved Permanently instead of having people resubscribe as it will automatically tell the program that the URL has changed and it should update its records with the new URL (which is actually the entire point of issuing a 301).

iTunes and the iTunes store support this nomenclature in addition to a special “<itunes:new-feed-url>” tag.

For more information on the iTunes redirect: http://www.apple.com/itunes/whatson/podcasts/specs.html#changing

For more information on sending 301 headers with ASP:
http://www.wrox.com/WileyCDA/Section/Redirecting-HTTP-301-Status-Codes-with-ASP-NET-and-IIS.id-306460.html

Merry Christmas,

Andrew

They never did implement my idea. And Bob never did email me back. Sometimes I think it would have been better to have kept the podcast, rather then let them run it. It never ceases to amaze me the monkeys some groups will let control their network. As of the time of this posting, Bob still works for ABC Group.


  1. historians of this blog may know who I’m talking about 

  2. they happened to name their files in a sequentially predictable manner 

  3. The danger here is that you risk losing subscribes when you ask them to perform a required action. Thus, if you make the action automatic, you don’t risk losing subscribers. It should be a “no-duh” point, but often people miss it. 

Note Craze

As I prepare to head out to Europe, I’m trying to clear out my inbox to zero (thus earning this badge). Ergo, another episode of Inboxen™ cleaning:

A friend from Mines posted a note on his Facebook:
From www.facebook.com:

Post your name and I will do each of the following:
1. I’ll respond with something random about you.
2. I’ll tell you which song or movie you remind me of.
3. I’ll pick a flavor of jello to wrestle you in.
4. I’ll say something that only makes sense to you and me.
(if it doesn’t yet, we can give it meaning.)
5. I’ll tell you my first memory of you.
6. I’ll tell you what animal you remind me of.
7. I’ll ask you something I’ve always wondered about you.
8. I’ll tell you my favorite thing about you.
9. I’ll tell you my least favorite thing about you.
10. If you play, you MUST post this on yours

I responded. Here’s what Sam had to say about me:

1. I bet you procrastinate a lot like I am doing right now.
2. You remind me of Primer, because you’re a young, charismatic, engineer like the guy in the film.
3. I always pass on the Jello thing, because I dislike Jello. I guess if I had to, I’d pick the white grape flavor.
4. Particle physics also gives me a hadron.
5. Down in the GRL a year ago, we were brainstorming.
6. A ferret, not sure why.
7. Do you plan on pursuing or somehow involving photography in your profession?
8. You’re good to work with, but also an interesting, artistic person. I rarely run into that.
9. I’m jealous of you, shame.
10. I want you to spread this thing like herpes.

With regard to number 7: I hope so.

Technology for The Trip

One of the bigest things I had to figure out for this trip was all the technology I was (or wasn’t going to bring) and how I would be using it. Basically, I didn’t want to bring anything super expensive or heavy with me, and what I ever I brought needed to do its job and do it well. Here’s the list of hardware:

Additionally, I’ve loaded up my Netbook with some software specific for this trip:

  • AVG Anti-virus
  • GeoSetter
  • Google Earth
  • Google Chrome
  • iTunes
  • Skype
  • Windows Live Writter
  • TweetDeck
  • Lightroom
  • Meebone
  • Flickr Uploader
  • GPSBabel
  • Launchy
  • NotePad++

Many of the software tools on this list are standare fare, others are new to me. GeoSetter is an application that merges GPS data (from the AMOD AGL3080 GPS Data Logger) with photos (from the D70).

Meebone is desktop version of Meebo, which is a web-based instant messaging program.

GPSBabel is a program which can take GPS data (again, from the AMOD AGL3080 GPS Data Logger, which is in NMEA 0183 format) and convert it into any other format, such as Google’s Keyhole Markup Language (KML).

Launchy is a program used for quick access to programs. I just press ALT + Space and type in the name of the program I want to run.

Windows Live Writter is a desktop program for composing and publish blog posts. I’m using this because there will often be times when I cannot connect to the internet, but still want to write up posts. This will let me compose posts and then publish them when I hit a WiFi spot.

One of the other things I’m working on is a revised workflow for photos. I need a workflow that will quickly let me merge GPS data, import photos to Lightroom for processing, export, and upload. I’m still working out the kinks, but the basic process goes like this (based in part on Bryan Villarin’s My new geotagging workflow with the Amod AGL3080 and Lightroom (Windows):

  1. Move photos from D70 to Netbook
  2. Move GPS data from Data Logger to Netbook
  3. Use GeoSetter to merge GPS data with photos (data added to NEF file, not sidecar XMP)
  4. Import/Move photos into Lightroom
  5. Pick good photos and apply Auto Tone and/or Punch filters
  6. Export filters to JPG with High Sharpening for Screen
  7. Important photos to Flickr Uploadr
  8. Add photos to group(s), add tag(s) to photos
  9. Upload photos
  10. Delete JPG version of photos

We’ll see how that works. My other option is to just backup the RAW photos to my server and not process them until I get home, which I don’t want to do.


  1. No, I’m not making that color up 

Mariners Game, This Thursday

TBTL (a radio show on KIRO-FM hosted by Luke Burbank of NPR/KUOW fame) is going to a Mariner’s game this Thursday, May 21st, against the LAA. Tickets are in Section 345/346/347 (view reserved, far left field, upper deck) and cost $10, which is half of what they normally cost. It also includes a free t-shirt.

I’m going and was wondering if anyone else would like to join me? The crowd should be of the young/hip variety (as opposed to the old fart variety), and should be pretty fun.

http://mlb.mlb.com/sea/ticketing/special_group.jsp?group=TBTL

The promo code is TBTL.

Anybody else in?

Note: Deadline to purchase is TODAY, Wednesday, May 20 at 5:00 p.m.

Dear Friends

Dear Friends (and Family) in Colorado,

I’m leaving Colorado tomorrow (Tuesday) morning. Leaving Colorado has been one of the most bitter sweet things I think I’ve ever had to do, even more so than at the end high school when I left Seattle for Colorado. The hardest thing for me has been trying to express how I feel. The deep love I have for all of you. The extreme sadness in the fact that I have to go. The giddy delight that I’m returning to Seattle.

I’m sitting in my grandma’s back yard right now, on one of those rocking benches. It’s pitch black out, save the glow from my screen. The wind rustles though the leaves. The wind chime softly sings. It’s one of those perfect moments of reflection, when everything finally comes into focus.

This past year has been amazing. Being a fifth year senior presented a unique set of challenges, and an equally amazing set of opportunities. Most of my friends graduated a year ago, leaving me and just a handful of others left. At the same time, a spark in my faith set me on a journey. I regularly attended church for the first time since leaving Seattle; not because I had to, but because I wanted to. I found an amazing new set of friends through church (both Merge and The Annex). What’s more, this renewed sense of faith found me challenging my beliefs, which is always a good thing, I think. And when I stumbled, you guys were there.

The biweekly Feed1 was often my cornerstone during the week, grounding me when school, and life, was just to much.

At the beginning of this school year, I very desperately wished for school to just be over. However, I’m glad I wasn’t allowed to sleep through these past nine months, as they have easily been my favorite nine months of the last five years. Part of me wishes I could do the first four years over again.

So thank you. To you. To all of you. Words cannot express the gratitude I have for all of you.

With Much Love,

Andrew

P.S. My hope is that this is not the end. Colorado always has been2 and will continue to be a second home for me. I will be back. And of course, you always have a bed (at least for a few nights) at my place in Seattle.


  1. a bunch of us would get together at Lance’s house (usually) for dinner, s’mores, and company 

  2. both my parents are born and raised in Colorado, and all my extended relatives live in Colorado 

Shooting Salida

I went to Salida with my family this past Tuesday so that Brian could check out the church he would be working at as their Youth Intern.

While driving through town, we came across a set of abandoned railroad tracks. Having wanted to do some urban1 exploring, I took the opportunity to wander about.

DSC_8488
50.0 mm || 1/8000 || f/1.8 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Salida, Colorado, United States

DSC_8493
50.0 mm || 1/5000 || f/2.8 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Salida, Colorado, United States

Blue White Red
50.0 mm || 1/8000 || f/2.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Salida, Colorado, United States

DSC_8522
50.0 mm || 1/8000 || f/2.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Salida, Colorado, United States

DSC_8531
50.0 mm || 1/1250 || f/2.8 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Salida, Colorado, United States

DSC_8544
50.0 mm || 1/5000 || f/1.8 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Salida, Colorado, United States

Calco Inc
50.0 mm || 1/3200 || f/4.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Salida, Colorado, United States

As always, you can see the rest of the photos on Flickr: Exploring Salida

As a side note: Brian will be working with Hilary Downs, who fellow UPC folk may recognize as the Ministry Coordinator for The Rock and The Edge back In The Day™. After graduating from Princeton, Hilary became the Associate Pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Salida. As Jeff noted, “Wow, small world… (or UPC is just that huge…).”

As yes, I love alliterations.


  1. although I’m not sure I’d call Salida urban 

Notes From The Annex, Part 4

Several months ago, November 4th, 2008, to be exact, Gordon MacDonald came and spoke at The Annex. To say he was amazing would be an understatement.

The Annex listed some of his books, which I’m now listing here, so I check them out at a later date (and I can throw out this piece of paper I’ve been holding on to for the last 6 months).

  • Renewing Your Spiritual Passion
  • Who Stole My Church?: What to Do When the Church You Love Tries to Enter the 21st Century
  • Ordering Your Private World
  • Mid-Course Correction: Re-Ordering Your Private World for the Second Half of Life
  • When Men Think Private Thoughts: Exploring The Issues That Captivate The Minds of Men
  • A Resilient Life: You Can Move Ahead No Matter What
  • Rebuilding Your Broken World
  • The Life God Blesses: Weathering the Storms of Life That Threaten the Soul
  • The Effective Father
  • Restoring Joy

Star Trek

Well, I did it. I watched every single Star Trek episode and movie known to man, and then graduated1. This has probably been one of my more arduous projects. This wasn’t just a matter of putting some Star Trek on and doing homework. No, I sat through and paid full attention to every single episode/movie, all 33348 minutes worth.

At an average rate of 25.53 minutes of Star Trek/day, it took 1306 days (about 3.6 years) to watch 726 episodes and 11 movies.

As promised, here’s a chart showing the progression:
star-trek-hours

The latest Star Trek was amazing. I went and saw it opening night with at least 50 people from Mines. At one point, I even lead everybody in a round of our fight song2.

Star Trek Premiere. © 2009 Kate Reinking.
Star Trek Premiere. © 2009 Kate Reinking.

My biggest concern was how this movie was going to reconcile with traditional Star Trek lore. This short answer is: parts of it do and parts of it don’t. The mythos up to James Kirk being born are from the traditional time line, however the visuals are not. This might bug some people, and I admit it bugs me a bit, but I think it works well over all.

Anyway, the entire premise of the movie is that a rogue Romulan is thrown back in time and starts altering the time line. This creates a new “alternate” time line that is different from the Star Trek history that we know and love; anything after the events around the birth of James Kirk can be completely new. And because it’s an alternate reality, this doesn’t conflict with the rules of the Star Trek universe. J.J. Abrams can have his pie and eat it too.

I’ll admit that it’s a rather dubious move, but it’s completely valid. “The time travel story establishes an alternate reality, freeing the film and the whole franchise from continuity constraints.”3 What can I say…it works.

Two thumbs up in my book. Plus my Star Trek Seal of Approval.

I’ll also probably be seeing the movie again when I’m back in Seattle if anyone wants to go.

…and please don’t ever let me do something like this4 again.


  1. more on that later 

  2. Oh, I wish I had a barrel of rum and sugar three hundred pounds… 

  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Trek_(film) 

  4. watching 33000+ minutes of a TV show 

Itinerary v0.4: Turkey, Greece, and Italy

I started writing this post with the idea that I’d meetup with Charlie in Turkey. We’d be in Turkey for about a week before going to Greece and then on to Italy before meeting up with Quinn in Switzerland on the 7th of July. Well, I got about half way through this post and realized: there’s no way we can do Turkey, Greece, and Italy in 14 days. I mean, we could, but we wouldn’t have any fun. I posted an update to my Twitter/Facebook page: “Andrew Ferguson is wondering about Turkey/Greece/Italy…I think I can only fit two of them in :-/ Thoughts?” Amazingly enough, I got 10 responses, two of which advocated Greece and Italy, five of which advocated Turkey and Greece, and two of which were rather admiment about Turkey. Since I’d already been to Italy before, I decided that Turkey and Greece would be two I would go to.

Then, I talked to Charlie today and he came up with this amazing plan that will not only allow us to see Turkey, Greece, and Italy, but it will also let Quinn spend a few days at the L’Abri.

This is Itinerary v0.4:

  • Day 1 (June 2nd):
    Seattle, Washington
    Dulles, Washington, DC
  • Day 2 (June 3rd): Moscow, Russia
  • Day 8 (June 9th): St. Petersburg, Russia
  • Day 13 (June 14th): Tallin, Estonia
  • Day 17: Ukraine
    Kiev
    Chernobyl
  • Day 21 (June 22nd): Turkey
    Istanbul
    Cappadocia
  • Day 28 (June 29rd): Greece 29th-4th / 6
  • Day 34 (July 5th): Italy
    Naples
    Rome
    Venice
    Cinque Terra
  • Day 40 (July 11th): Switzerland
  • Day 44 (July 15th):Austria
    Salzburg
    Vienna
    Innsbruck
  • Day 49 (July 20th): Hungary
    Budapest
  • Day 52 (July 23rd): Czech Republic
  • Day 55 (July 26th): Poland
  • Day 58 (July 29th): Germany

As you’ll notice, the entire key to this plan is slipping the start of Switzerland back four days to July 11th. As it turns out, this works out quite nicely.

To recap: after Ukraine, I’ll be joining Charlie in Turkey, who will travel with me for the remainder of my (now our) trip. Greece and Italy is currently the topic of hot debate for us. Basically, we need to meet Quinn (who will be joining both of us in Switzerland) around the 7th 11th of July. Thus, Charlie and I need to get through Turkey, Greece, and Italy between the 22nd of June to the 7th 11th of July…15 19 days. For the purpose of this post, I’m going to assume that we’ll be fine traveling in Turkey. Instead, I’m going to focus on plans for the Greece and Italy portion.

We’ve gone through several ideas including literally all modes of transportation, including planes, trains, renting a car, renting a motorcycle, renting a moped, ferries, and buses.

As much fun I think it would be to rent a car and drive through Italy, it would probably be cost prohibitive for just two people. Here’s why:

$361.04 for a 5 day rental of a Ford Fiesta (Manual Transmission) with unlimited kilometers through Hertz with pickup in Bari, Italy and drop off in Milan, Italy

Plus a $22.50/day young drive fee ($112.50 total)

Plus gas for driving from Bari to Agnone to Rome to Venice to Milano for a total of 1335 km. Assuming 12km/L1, that’s 111.25 Liters of fuel. Finding gas prices is hard, I’m going with $5.80/gal2 which is $1.54/L. So add another $170 for gas.
We’re already up to $643.50, and that doesn’t even include toll fees. So driving is out.

I tried looking for a place that would rent one-way motorcycles or mopeds, and I couldn’t find any. So that’s out too.

Charlie mentioned the Eurorail idea, so I looked at that. And I think it would actually be pretty feasible.

Initially, I looked at the Eurail Greece – Italy Pass, which costs $250/person for 5 days of travel in a 2 month period.

However, after looking at Charlie’s new itinerary, we decided that it would actually be more cost effective to purchase the Eurail Global 21 Day Pass for $589. It’s important to note that this is for 21 continuous days of travel, not 21 days of travel in 2 months. The idea is to use this for travel in Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, and Czech Republic. Poland isn’t part of the Eurail Global pass, so it actually works quite perfectly, especially considering we’ll be traveling about every other day…more or less.

One idea to get from Greece to Italy would be to take the Superfast Ferry from Igoumenitsa, Greece, departing daily at 23:59 to Bari, Italy, arriving at 08:30.


  1. http://www.mapsofworld.com/referrals/cars/small-cars/subcompact-cars/ford-fiesta.html 

  2. http://fabulously40.com/article/id/2171