In Search Of a Good Camera Bag

When I was younger, I learned the hard way not to buy cheap hand bags. I bought a bunch of these (including illegitimate knockoffs sold to me in a backroom somewhere in Chinatown — which I will never again do for so many reasons!) and they would never last.

Lo & Sons The Claremont bag that I'm parting ways with
Lo & Sons "The Claremont" bag that I'm parting ways with

Now that I'm older and (so I hope) somewhat wiser, I invest in handbags that will last me a while and put up with abuse. I take the subway almost every day of the week so bags I wear can't just look pretty but they really have to function, especially under stress. A bag I carry should be able to get bumped into by a hobo and brush it off! Not only that, it should be able to fit all the junk I need in a day (wallet, digital devices, makeup, etc). Continue reading "In Search Of a Good Camera Bag"

Dark Patterns

Sometimes things happen and they are just coincidence and sometimes things happen, especially on the internet, and someone explicitly went out of their way to make that happen. You may find this when you are casually browsing a retail site for a pair of shoes and then, through the magic of something called "retargeting," you keep seeing advertisements for that same pair of shoes. At this point, we all see this coming so it doesn't come as a surprise.

Everyone is tracking us everywhere — and sometimes we willingly let them track us by volunteering information about ourselves (i.e. what we all do on Facebook day in and day out). This is okay as long as everyone's complicit; when the product you are using is free, YOU are the product (the selling of information about you to target selling you stuff, in essence).

What I find far more disturbing is a trend toward dark patterns that I'm seeing in the design of products. I define a dark pattern as a product that takes you somewhere that you as a user don't want to go. It's intentionally leading you to something you may not want — usually the end game is to lead you to something that is profitable for the product but not so great for the consumer.

Dark Bouquet by Jen Gallardo
Dark Bouquet by Jen Gallardo

Continue reading "Dark Patterns"

Apple Picking

I was within a stone’s throw of Cupertino (by chance on a work trip to Northern California) when Apple had their fall event to announce their new lineup of products. There’s always a ton of excitement on Twitter for these events and, if you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know I do enjoy a good silly tweet or two (the more GIFs the better!). And, as an iPhone 6 owner, I was anxiously awaiting to hear about what options I might have to upgrade to as my phone is starting to show its age.

Camera Roll
Camera Roll
Continue reading "Apple Picking"

Detachment

For a little while earlier this year, I was telling people that I needed a vacation from my life. There's work which is always going to be a challenge (they don't call it "work" for nothing!) and then the multitude of personal responsibilities (fitness, friends, family, cleaning the house so we're not living in squalor) we want to balance against that. And, oh yeah, we occasionally want to have fun, too.

Through the Bars
Through the Bars

Now, don't get me wrong, some of the personal things are definitely fun! I love spending time with family; in fact, I'm probably one of few people who really enjoys spending time with her in-laws. And fitness is generally fun for me because I get to focus on a practice (Muay Thai) set to music which appeals to that geeky problem-solving little punk that lives inside my brain. I'm also fortunate that I've made friends at the gym so I can kill 2 birds with one stone there!

However, as you've probably surmised, these things do come at a cost — which ultimately makes them worth doing, but also sometimes hard. Family time can be flippin' impossible to schedule because schedules. And my training time is typically in the early morning which means a dedication to getting my ass out of bed at 5:25 in the morning and then being ready to leave the house exactly 20 minutes later.

I can go on and on about how hard it is sometimes to schedule with friends or even my husband, for that matter! I don't like to be busy for the sake of being busy but I definitely prioritize my workouts and some other activities (like drying my hair because that takes forever…) which means I have to plan my life around them. And I love that. Overall, I enjoy how I spend my time (except for any time spent mopping floors) and who I spend it with. Continue reading "Detachment"

How I Spent My Summer Vacation – A Photo Story

Now that Labor Day has come and gone, I cry in a corner wishing for a do-over of summer think about how I spent my summer and reminisce.

Much of the summer was spent in the city. As is always the case for me, I start to get tired of it and I need a change of pace to remind me why I call this gem of a city home.

First stop, San Diego.

Glittery Beach
Glittery Beach

We took on Coronado Beach which, due to the presence of mica, glitters like someone dropped a glitter bomb across the entire beach. Also notable were the donuts (and donut-like poptarts) at The Donut Bar.

Next stop, Los Angeles. Continue reading "How I Spent My Summer Vacation – A Photo Story"

In the Eye of a Hurricane

In case you've been living under a rock, there was a massive hurricane that impacted the Gulf Coast (Hurricane Harvey) and now another even bigger storm heading toward southern Florida (Hurricane Irma). I've now gotten to the point where I've typed the word hurricane too many times; so much so that I'm starting to doubt that I'm spelling it correctly.

I knew some people in Harvey's path but most of my family could potentially be in Irma's path so it's more top of mind for me. I haven't yet turned on the (cable) news because I have a feeling it's going to be devastation porn so, in order to get a sense of where this storm is going, I've been looking at my Weather Underground app (which I love) that has a hurricane tracker and also googling a bit for pieces of information here and there.

And this is where technology gets a little weird. Continue reading "In the Eye of a Hurricane"

Subways and Countdown Clocks

In a world where you might be stuck underground waiting for a subway train, a digital screen that can tell you when the next train is coming can be a godsend. If you live in a city with a modern train system, you are probably used to screens that announce train arrivals and don't think anything of it. In New York, this is novel like a great white buffalo.

Well, it depends what train line you are on. And, for me, it's not great. I take the A train and the train is often crowded or delayed; and when it is delayed, there's usually not a "countdown" clock in sight.

Continue reading "Subways and Countdown Clocks"

Why I Can't Read the Googler's Manifesto

I think you may have heard about one Googler's manifesto, but I can't bring myself to read it.

Segmentation Fault
Was I not the only one who wanted to throw her computer out the window after hearing about the manifesto?

Let me preface this by saying that I strongly believe in free-flowing discourse and dialogue. I believe that we should question our assumptions and seek solace in facts and figures. I also believe in seeking out patterns in our past behavior to help predict future actions, or break out of them. But first and foremost, I believe that we owe it to our fellow humans to empathize with their experiences on this earth.

And, from what I understand of this manifesto, the writer doesn't seem to understand the shifts that women have seen in the last 30 years with regard to technology. The number of women graduating with Computer Science degrees is steadily decreasing; as Wired Magazine notes in their interview with Melinda Gates, 1 in 3 women in the 1980's has decreased to less than 1 in 5 earning a Comp Sci degree. Continue reading "Why I Can't Read the Googler's Manifesto"

The Exposure Triangle: Doing the Math to Make a Nice Picture

When I was in college (which feels like so many moons ago!), I took an Intro to Photography class. I took the class because, with the easy availability of digital cameras, I had already started taking a ton of photos but wanted to do it a little better. I didn't know what an SLR was (or what those letters even meant) and had no idea about all the different components you can manipulate to take a picture, all to different effect.

Beautiful Sunday by Jen Gallardo
Beautiful Sunday — one of my favorite photos as it makes a nice desktop background!

I think I ended up getting a film SLR (that's single-lens-reflex, by the way) camera for Christmas and using that for a while throughout the class but the exposure triangle kind of alluded me for a long time. It wasn't until I started using a digital SLR — with the abundant low cost tolerance for trial and error — that it finally clicked.

A lot of people ask me about what kind of camera to buy and use but, for most of those people, I think the question they should be asking is how they can improve the quality of their photos. Continue reading "The Exposure Triangle: Doing the Math to Make a Nice Picture"