Wednesday, 28 February 2007

Saltpans


I have had an intention to visit Sečovlje Saltpans for quite a while. Considering it's only one and a half hour drive, I have been putting it off for far too long.



However, I have finally done it during the last autumn. I was really looking forward to it. It is supposed to be one of more popular bird nesting places in Slovenia, which results in a great photo opportunity.


When I got there, at first I was a bit disappointed. I haven't been thinking about that before, but the nesting period was over months before and most of the birds were preparing for their yearly journey south.


The disappointment lingered around for only a couple of moments, before being replaced with astonishment. The surrounding was just so beautiful and peaceful. Sun was reflecting of the calm sea water in shallow pools. But all of that was just nothing compared to the sunset to come. Well, judge it for yourself...



The result was a beautiful afternoon, which ended with a delicious evening dinner. Have I mentioned before that I just love seafood. Mmmmm... seafood.

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Tuesday, 27 February 2007

Web statistics


This is turning out to be another IT related post, but don't go running away just because of that. You might learn something useful.

Like the title suggests I will be writing about web statistics and analytical tools. The free ones that is.



I have been using different kinds of web counters for ages.

Not much time has past since we were all happy with a simple number counter on the entering page of our webpage. Then along came advanced web statistic tools, which unfortunately were available only for a certain monthly fee. One of the most promising ones was Urchin Web Analytics Reporting Service.


On a beautiful sunny day Google has decided to buy them and offer the fully functional web analytics tool to the public for free. Google decided to name this product Google Analytics. Follow the link if you want to find out more about it.


In one of the previous posts I have already posted a screenshot of one of the available statistics - Web browsers used by visitors of this blog.


Google Analytics is also linked to Google AdWords service – together they make a truly powerful tool. Go check it out, it will help you bring targeted traffic to your site.
You can find the link to AdWords at the bottom of the right frame.

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Sunday, 25 February 2007

Beech mast in winter


This is how a beech mast looks on an idyllic winter day.



Photo was taken during a short break by a cross-country skiing track (Vojsko, Slovenia). In spite of the intentional macro blur, a skier can be seen in the background.


Buy a DVD video titled: Slovenia and Croatia

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Saturday, 24 February 2007

Lost shoes


Did you know there is a lost shoe database in Germany?
Rheinschuh is a database of shoes and gloves washed ashore on the river Rhein.



Have you ever thought how difficult it is to loose just one shoe? What the heck do you do with the remaining one?


I have been thinking about that more than once but then I have seen it happen. Well not actually, but I have been there when it has happened.


It was on a roadtrip to Sicily. We were just two couples in two cars and have been hitting the road for a few days. It was a hot August day and we were rolling down one of the Italian motorways somewhere near Salerno. Like many times before, we have stopped by the road to stretch and refresh ourselves.
After a while we were back on our way. It was at our next stop when I have noticed that one of my friends from the other car was wearing a pair of heavy hiking boots. Did I mention it was hot like hell?
At first she wouldn't say what was happening, but after a while she confessed.
During our previous stop, she was sitting in the car eating a sandwich. The door opened, one leg in the car and the other outside, with sneakers half off her feet.
When it was time to go, she had already shaken her sneakers off her feet - the left one inside the car, the right one outside. She just put both her feet back into the car, closed the door and off we went.


After we have heard the story, we just couldn't stop laughing. It was an unpleasant situation, but funny nonetheless. When she noticed one shoe was missing we were already hundreds of kilometers away from that spot and had no desire to go back.
In the end everything was well - those were only old sneakers anyway. The remaining one went into the first trash can and she bought herself a new (complete) pair. The event fortunately didn't spoil the rest of our vacation.


Italians unfortunately didn't have a lost & found shoe office in southern Italy where we could claim the lost sneaker. ;)


Buy a DVD video titled: Visions of Italy - Northern and Southern Style

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Friday, 23 February 2007

Skiing checklist


I have always had problems with packing for longer trips. Usually I have started packing just hours before the actual departure. It has happened quite often that I left an item or two at home. If by a strange coincidence I didn't forget anything, I was nervous for at least a couple of days afterwards. I just had an annoying feeling that there must be something I have forgotten. Can anyone relate to that?


The photo is showing the state of our apartment after me and my girlfriend unpacked our stuff (not all of it is visible) from the car after a three week camping trip to Corsica. Try to pack that much stuff without forgetting anything. Would you believe all of this stuff was driving around in a Renault 5?


It was years ago, when a friend of mine gave me a great idea. Why not make a couple of simple Excel tables with items needed to be packed in my luggage.
I have come down to just a few travel checklists: summer camping at the seaside, summer holidays in a hotel, mountain hiking, sailing, skiing and one for business travels.
Of course all of the mentioned lists change each time according to some specifics. You also need to take into account your needs (e.g. if you regularly take some kind of medicine, you shouldn’t forget to pack it). Even I check the list every time I use it and add an item or two if necessary.


Here is a skiing checklist which I used for this months one week long trip to Italian Dolomites.

Skiing Checklist
ItemQuantityPacked
Passport1Y
Cash (EUR)500Y
Bank cards2Y
GSM & charger
1
Y
Digital camera & charger
1
Y
Maps
2
Y
MP3 Player
1
N
MP3 Music CDs20
N
Sunglasses
1
Y
Swiss army knife
1
Y
Books
1
N
Board & card games3
Y
Pen & paper
1
Y
Thermo flask
1
Y
Skis & ski-sticks
1
Y
Ski goggles1Y
Ski boots1Y
Ski suit (jacket & pants)
1
Y
Ski mitts
1
Y
Leather gloves
1
Y
Scarf
1
Y
Cap
1
Y
Socks & stockings
6
Y
Underpants
6
Y
T-shirts
6
Y
Gym-pants
1
Y
Sweat shirt
2
Y
Trekking pants
1
Y
Jeans pants
1
Y
Towel1
Y
Backpack (25 l)
1
Y
Slippers
1
Y
Trekking shoes
1
Y
Umbrella
1
Y
Bag with toilet set
1
Y
Sunscreen
1
Y
Lip gloss (protective)
1
Y
Medicine (pills, plasters, etc.)
n
Y
Condoms (pack)
1
Y
Schnapps (bottle)1
Y
Food & drinks for the road
n
Y

If you think there is something missing, please do post it in a comment.

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Surfing the web


As a person working in the IT field, I just can't make it without an IT based post once in a while. This time I am going to write about most often used applications today. I think it's safe to say those are Web browsing applications.


I have been using such applications for quite a while and have tried many of them in the process. My first contact with internet was with a help of Netscape. I liked it, but over the years it has fallen behind in its ability to properly display more complicated web pages. Microsoft Internet Explorer took advantage of that and soon became the most popular web browser by far.
It took other players some years to recover from that. Opera and Mozilla Firefox were amongst the most successful ones. For a limited period of time compared to Firefox and IE, Opera has had more advanced features. Soon Firefox took off on the wings of its many plugins and almost 100% accurate display of web pages.

The advantage of Firefox is in its simplicity and consequential speed. Almost every functionality you can think of, can be included additionally in the form of an add-on.
Recently Microsoft has released a new version of IE, which has simply copied many of the Firefox's proven functionalities. As a response to that Firefox 2.0 has been released. If you ask me, currently it's the best web browsing tool out there.
It costs you absolutely nothing to try it out, but could gain a lot. It's faster then the competition, safer from spyware than IE, comes with a Google toolbar and thousands of various add-ons, which help you to make it your own.
You can try it by clicking on the Firefox link in the right frame.


Below you can see a screenshot of most used web browsers by visitors of this photo blog. The screenshot was taken in Google Analytics.


Global statistics at OneStat.com show that in July 2006 83.05% of all web surfers were still using Microsoft IE. Mozilla Firefox was used by only 12.93%, but its share is growing every day. Other followers are Apple Safari, Opera and Netscape with 2 percent and less.


You can find the link to downloading the latest version of Mozzila Firefox in the right frame. Be one of the smart ones and use Firefox 2.0 to surf the web!

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Tuesday, 20 February 2007

Skiing in the Dolomites, Italy (Part 2)


Considering the topic of the previous post I also have to post a few photos of snow cowered slopes. If I don't do that you might think that all we were doing last week was emptying bottles.


In the Part 1 of “Skiing in the Dolomites” I have posted a summary of my ski report. I tried to do a comparison with previous years, but I can't find any old ski passes (data since the 2004-05 winter can be accessible on the Dolomiti Superski web site). I was almost sure I didn't throw them away. If I have any luck finding them sometime later I'll do the comparison then. You know how it is - you always seem to find things you don't need at the moment.


I hope you are able to get a taste of the Dolomites winter atmosphere from a photo selection bellow.
Some of the mountains in the backgrounds of my photos are repeating over and over again. I just couldn’t help myself - they are simply magnificent. On the first two photos Monte Pelmo (3168 m) is visible in all its beauty. First one is Col dei Baldi and the second is Col Fioret.
The next one is a demonstration of what not to do anywhere near the yellow sign.
On the last photo there is an apartment house in which we have stayed for a third time in a row. Considering the price, location and furnishing, the apartment is a real bargain.





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Sunday, 18 February 2007

Thirsty travelers in the Dolomites


People say dehydration is a dangerous thing. With hours and hours of skiing also comes thirst and one has to take care of it. As a consequence of that, last week we drank many liters of liquid every day. But just like the Thirsty traveler on Travel Channel, we couldn't miss the opportunity to taste some of the local beverages. Mostly alcoholic ones. We had to be very careful though - skiing and alcohol don't go together well.


There were loads of various home distilled fruit products (prugna, fichi, genziano), many kinds of beers (we loved a German Franziskaner Weissbier), wines (Chianti, Cabernet and Cabernet Frank), vin brulè (hot wine), various hot chocolate and egg-nog cocktails with funny names (Bombardino, Civettino and Caramelino).
I have tasted and liked almost every one of the mentioned beverages. There was only one exception – genziano. That is a gentian-flavoured alcoholic drink, which I would dare to say is the bitterest thing on this planet.


In case if the Italians ran out of alcohol, we also brought some with us. We wouldn't go on such a trip without a few liters of Slovenian wine, some pear-schnapps and a couple six-packs of beer. There has to be some strange reason why we have chosen a toast (Zdravljica) for our national anthem.
The above mentioned pear-schnapps is called "Viljamovka" in Slovenian. It is named after a sort of pear. Usually inside of a bottle there is a whole pear. The pear is put in a bottle when still growing and is small enough to slide inside. Then it is left to ripe inside the bottle until it is cut off from the tree.


On the first photo bellow there is a captured moment from the Franziskaner beer drinking, the second shows a bottle of home made Viljamovka schnapps (with a pear still inside). An ice-bar with various kinds of temptations for the Thirsty traveler/skier can be seen on the bottom two photos.



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Saturday, 17 February 2007

Skiing in the Dolomites, Italy (Part 1)


And I am back - finally!


I have spent a week on white slopes of the Italian Dolomites. It was a great week full of skiing, eating, drinking and of course enjoying quality time with my skiing companions.


Almost the first thing I did when I got home was to check one of the cool features of the official Dolomiti Superski web site. It is called "Check your own ski-performance". In the provided report one can check altitudes reached, kilometers of slopes covered as well as the map with the routes covered.
Besides the skiing activity all of the inactivity can also be seen on a graphical timeline.
Quite interesting indeed.


There are many cute little wooden "rifugi" (refuges/bars/restaurants) on the slopes. Most of them were just calling for a short stop. We named them "traps". They are mainly using various home distilled fruit products for bait. With much success if I may add.


Here is a summary of my 6-day report.



All this is a side product of monitoring the skiers movement within the Dolomites ski area. If you buy a multi-day ski pass, you get one with a chip and your name on it. Every time you use a ski lift, the chip sends a message to the system. I guess they designed the system primarily with the skiers’ safety in mind. In spite of that I just can't get rid of the "big brother is always watching you" feeling.
I have also noticed that my last few rides went by unnoted. Obviously even the Big brother doesn't see it all. I wish!


Once again I have managed to take some gorgeous photos of the scenery. As soon as I download them from my camera, I'll post some of them. Until then - "All you need is just a little patience..."

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Saturday, 10 February 2007

I'll be back


Like Arnie used to say - I'll be back (I don't say it with such a funny German accent, though). From skiing that is. I have already mentioned that I am going to the Italian Dolomites for a week in one of the previous posts.


I try to go on a skiing vacation like that every year. Besides that I often take advantage of closer skiing resorts (mostly Slovenian ones) during winter weekends. Few such weekends combined with a week in Dolomites make just enough skiing for a season. I like it but in spite of being a skiing enthusiast I could get fed up with it, if it would add up to more than 20 skiing days per season.
This winter hasn't been too generous with snow. So no fear of getting too much skiing so far.
Can't wait to start carving on those slopes with the picturesque Dolomites all around me!


My trusty old camera is of course going with me. I hope to take a bunch of nice photos. And most of all to get an overdose of skiing - hopefully without breaking anything in the process.


I'm all packed and ready to go. We are hitting the road today around noon.


Take care and check for updates in a week or so.

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Friday, 9 February 2007

Bugz life #1


I have always loved macro photography. In addition to that I have been always fascinated with bugs and all kinds of insects. I don't have any fears concerning spiders and similar little creatures.
If you put 1 and 1 together, it adds up to loads of bugs-related digital photos in my archive.


That is one of the reasons for the #1 in the title. A strange gut feeling is telling me that this is not the last time I'm posting photos like these.


During winter there are not many of them around. That is why I am posting some of my older ones.


I don't want to sound like I am missing mosquitoes on a humid summer evening. Heck no! On that subject I just say: Thanks God, it's winter. I hate those bloodsucking bitches!
In spite of that, I once tried to take a macro photo of a mosquito sucking blood from my arm. I didn't get anything but a few itchy spots. I guess I would have to create some kind of artificial environment to do it and I never got that far. Maybe next summer...


Let's cut to the chase. If arachnophobia is one of your problems, maybe you should look the other way. Don't say I didn't warn you.
I don't have a clue what are the names of these creatures. I can just tell you where the pictures were taken. The first one is from the reagion of Kornati (Croatia), the second was taken on a trip to Corsica (France), the last two were taken in Ljubljana (Slovenia).



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Thursday, 8 February 2007

Lake Bled, Slovenia


In the previous post I wrote about my sledding adventure, which in the end didn't include that much sledding.


I have mentioned that we went to Vogar. What I didn't mention is that it's in the Slovenian region of Gorenjska. On our way from Ljubljana we drove past a couple of lakes - Bled and Bohinj. One part of Lake Bohinj can be visible on a photo included in the previous post.


This time we didn't have time to stop and admire the beauty of Lake Bled which is the most promoted tourist sight of Slovenia - and with a reason too. It's breathtaking. In the middle of the lake there is a church build on the only Slovenian island. On a steep cliff rising almost directly from the lake stands the oldest Slovenian castle. It was first mentioned in 1011. Even a former Yugoslav leader, Marshall Tito had a residence by the lake. In short: it's a must see.


During the last autumn me and my girlfriend took a trip there. It is a great destination for a day trip. The objectives were simple: to relax, enjoy the scenery and of course to take some picture-postcard photos.


I dare to say that all of the objectives were met. I'll let you decide about that on your own - at least about the picture-postcard part anyway. ;)





Buy a DVD video titled: Slovenia and Croatia
Buy an Exploring Horizons series DVD: Bled, Slovenia

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Wednesday, 7 February 2007

Sledding


It has been one of my favorite winter activities during childhood. Every winter I couldn't wait for local road conditions to get just right for sledding. I have to admit I still have some of that enthusiasm hidden somewhere deep inside of me.


As I was growing up, I could see on-going progress all around me. From my point of view it was mostly a good thing (telephone and eventually even internet).
But it wasn't all like that. For instance when they upgraded a local tarmac road to asphalt, it also meant the end of sledding. I may be forgetting some locals, for which this change was of course for the better - they could get to civilization with fewer problems. But who cares about that - the topic is sledding and not some irrelevant issue of being cut of from the rest of the world for half of winter!


The other day a friend of mine invited me to try a toboggan run. It is called Vogar and is supposed to be the longest run in Slovenia (5 km or 3,1 mi). It has been a couple of years since my last sledding experience and I really wanted to do it again.


It was a beautiful Saturday winter morning and considering great company it could get only better. At least I had thought so.
Before we could reach a mountain cottage at the top, we had to take an hour long walk up a steep path.
When we had finally (all sweaty of course) reached the top, the cottage caretaker has informed us that the road downhill, in other words our toboggan run, has not been plowed yet. There were some fallen trees blocking the road. This meant the way down was also going to be on foot. We were not very happy with that fact, especially after a friend admitted that the day before she saw a report on the internet stating the same thing.


Well, if nothing else we got to enjoy idyllic Alpine scenery (we're admiring Lake Bohinj on the second photo), some fresh air and a tasty dinner on the way home. Better luck with sledding next time I guess.



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Tuesday, 6 February 2007

Photo equipment


It seems appropriate to let you know what equipment I am using to publish photos on this blog.


The leading role in this show belongs to Olympus C-5060 WZ. I have purchased it on eBay in June 2004 and it has been a great companion ever since.

The main reason for choosing this kind of camera (a cross between a compact and an SLR) was that I wasn't sure if I was ready for a digital SLR. They are quite expensive and a pain in the ass to carry around. I am afraid that with the next step there will be no alternative. I think now I am ready for an SLR - but not before my Oly bites the dust.


It performs great in almost every situation. The only things that bother me are:

  • only 4x optical zoom,
  • not so great performance in poor lighting,
  • grainy results when using high ISO settings.
Fortunately, there are many great features for every one of the mentioned downsides. Here are just some of them:
  • settings for almost everything you think of,
  • very useful WideZoom (don't believe those who are saying: "You don't need that! Just take a couple of steps backwards and you get the same result."),
  • robust body (comes in handy when your girlfriend drops it on the floor),
  • great battery life,
  • great macro performance,
  • CF and xD memory card slots,
  • etc.
In addition to that I also use various kinds of photo software. For browsing through my photo collection I am usually using Google Picasa. It has replaced ACDSee - my former photo browsing tool.
For editing I prefer Adobe Photoshop. Although I try not to alter the real feel to the images I often use it to give the final touch to the photo.

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Monday, 5 February 2007

Browsing through my photo archives #1


It has been a while since I was browsing through my e-photo archives. Today I was looking for a particular photo - which in the end I didn't find...
I have promised myself a hundred times that I will start cataloging my photos, but I have never found enough time (nor will) to actually do it.


Anyhow... I have stumbled on some couple-year-old photos from a skiing adventure in Italian Dolomites. I got very excited about the idea of going there again in a week or so. Can't hardly wait!


Here's a taste of what I'm excited about. Jealous?


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Sunday, 4 February 2007

Opening post

Hooray!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


This is the very first post of this (one day to become) very popular blog.
This blog is the place where I plan to post some (more or less) interesting photos from my everyday life. I hope someone will appreciate it.


Every comment is more then welcome!

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