Day 2 – Engelberg to Meiringen

Day 2: Engelberg to Meiringen

We awoke to a clear, sunny morning in Engelberg. Breakfast was of the extended ‘continental’ variety, held in the hotel’s grand dining room, complete with elaborate woodwork on the ceiling and panoramic windows facing outward on the town. Having determined that the missing luggage was still missing, we spent a bit of time exploring the downtown shops, locating a set of good trekking poles and a hat, for just under double what REI might have charged. When all was said and done it was past 11AM when we started out from the central square in the direction of the Jochpass.

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Day 1 – Altdorf to Engelberg

Day 1 – Altdorf to Engelberg

The rain had stopped when we awoke around 6:30AM. The sky had mostly cleared and the scene outside was fresh and clean. Altdorf sits in a narrow valley, but peering out one of the windows, one could make out fresh snow on the higher ridges above the town. We finished re-packing the suitcase we were leaving behind and headed down for breakfast.

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Circle of Solitude backpack trip

The ‘Circle of Solitude’ (so named by author Mike White) is a 65-70 mile trek in the heart of the High Sierra crossing some of the most wild and remote parts of Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks.  My father and I did the trek in mid-June, 2014.  Due to the low-snow year, we did not have any real difficulties with the snow or stream crossings, but we did encounter far more than our share of mosquitoes.

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Olympus’s 12-40/2.8 – a lens for all seasons

Wildflowers

I have a confession to make – I’m a pretty boring photographer.  Oh, I have a drawer stuffed full of lenses and other photo-related gear just like everybody else, but when it comes to actually taking photos, 90% of the time the lens on my camera is some sort of standard zoom.  I started out with a 28-105mm (equivalent) lens, moved to a 24-120mm , went back and forth between a 24-70mm and a 24-135mm, moved back to the 24-120mm and finally last year ended up getting and using a 24-80mm equivalent in the form of Olympus’s recently announced m.ZD 12-40/2.8 Pro lens.

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Windows 8.1 – change for the sake of change

I’ve now installed Windows 8.1 three separate times and used it on and off for a couple of months, and I can’t say I’m really warming to it.

The problem, as has been pointed out many times now, is that Microsoft seems to have decided that tablets are the future, and rather than build an OS specifically for tablets, they transformed their desktop OS to make it more tablet friendly, and in the process made it very desktop unfriendly.

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BMW 530i (E34) conclusions

BMW E34

There were a number of factors that contributed to my choice to buy the E34.  After the demise of my E46 at the hands of a pothole and the insurance adjuster, I was looking for a car that would be economical, fun, reliable, and economical.  Good looks were also a plus.

With the exception of the cost of repairs, the E34 (which we found on craigslist) seemed to fit all those constraints quite well.  Asking price was a little over $3k and the car appeared to be in no need of immediate repairs.  I think the biggest item the pre-purchase inspection turned up were worn windshield wiper blades.  The potential cost of repairs was a major concern (even older BMW parts aren’t inexpensive), but given the price and apparent dilligence of the previous owners, it seemed like a reasonable tradeoff.

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2014 desktop computer upgrade

After four years, it finally looks like it’s time to upgrade my desktop machine.  For most things, the machine is fine, but when it comes to processing images in Lightroom, the delay involved in rendering each image (4-5 seconds per 16MP raw file) has started to be annoying.  The hope is that by jumping forward 3 processor generations, and doing some modest overclocking, I can get that down by 40-50%.

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BMW 530i (E34) review – driving

BMW 530i

I’ve now put around 18,000 miles on the 530i in just over a year.  I’ve used it extensively both commuting to and from work and school, and for traveling all over California.  It’s been a good companion, polishing off the miles with aplomb and providing a comfortable and relaxing vantage point to observe the road from.

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Re-reviewing the Olympus E-M5

Sunset

Most product reviews are made shortly after the product is released.  The idea is to get the word out while the thing is still new, so people who are considering getting it have some idea of what they’re in for.  The disadvantage is of course that some things become apparent only with the passage of time 

So with the benefit of 14 month’s hindsight and more than 15,000 images since my original review, would I still choose the E-M5 as my primary camera?  Has it lived up to expectations?  My answer is below.

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The case for the (still) missing Apple xMac

Xmac

Ever since the introduction of the first Power Mac G5 towers, a number of Mac users have been holding out hope for a mid-range machine that would offer more expansion and upgradability than an iMac, at less cost than the a Power Mac G5 (or later Mac Pro).  Ars Technica’s John Siracusa gave this elusive product a name: the xMac.

The basic premise of the xMac of course was that we needed a Mac that was both semi-affordable (not huge was nice too) and at the same time somewhat future-proofed.  The iMac for all its virtues has never been a particularly friendly machine for upgrading and has only gotten worse with time.  These days, even changing the hard drive is a pain, and of course if the display goes, you’re hosed.  The Mac Pro meanwhile has always been pretty good on the expansion front, but it’s hard to justify paying $2500+ when a much less expensive machine would work equally well for my tasks.  Plus recent rumors notwithstanding, Apple seems to have more or less abandoned the Mac Pro at this point, leaving it woefully outdated (CPUs are 2 generations out of date, machines lack Thunderbolt, etc.).

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