South Bay Lovin’


I have not blogged in a long time so I’m going to try to write before I become busy again. I have been extremely occupied in the past couple weeks, especially with work. I even forgot about doing my PD assignments for the past 2 weeks (don’t follow my example, please..) For those who do not know, Video for Instagram launched last Thursday on both iOS and Android. I helped with the Android launch, and despite all of the challenges and required extra hours, it was totally worth it. I have never worked with such a dynamic, open team, and I don’t really know what I’m going to do when I have to go back to school for the Fall. Check out the new feature if you haven’t already.

So how’s life for me? I am loving South Bay life. I barely went down here the last time I was in the Bay Area. It is definitely a place I’d like to live sometime in the future. Simply put, it’s nice. Really, really nice. I’ve been here about 7 weeks and it has yet to rain. Nada. This is so different from life in SF, the city that never stops being foggy, rainy, and hovering at 15-20 degrees celsius (59-68F). I still go up to the city once a week. This weekend, I added 50 bucks to my Clipper Card for the 4th time since I’ve been here. I actually checked out Haight & Ashbury for the first time today – it’s a great shopping district! Too bad there were 5 guys in our group or else we would have been there for hours.

Being a Facebook intern also has its perks – there are always amazing intern events. Last week, they took us to Yosemite. There wasn’t a lot of time to do big hikes, so a few friends and I just did some bare foot rock climbing at the Lower Falls. It was truly amazing being so close to the waterfall, and I have never realized how durable the human foot was until that day. I’ve become sheltered by shoes and socks for a long time, it seems. A few pics:

Lower Falls

Yosemite

Not all the interns have arrived yet. I think there are 700+ total summer interns. It is crazy. Not all of them are even here yet – I think the last batch arrive next week (July 1st). The official Bay Area interns group itself is about 3.5k people. Yes, movies like The Internship were made to entertain people like us.

It’s also very interesting being able to hang out with more Americans and understanding their differences from us Canadians. A few things:

  • Canadians say “washroom” while Americans say “restroom” or “the men’s room” or whatever.
  • Canadians say “marks” vs Americans say “grades” (? unconfirmed)
  • Americans don’t say “Let’s dip” in lieu of “Let’s go” (? unconfirmed)

Anyways, the only complaints I have so far about where I live is that the closest chain movie theatre is in Redwood City – which is in Zone 2 on the Caltrain Map. Menlo Park (MPK) to Sunnyvale is in Zone 3. There are a couple theaters in MPK and Palo Alto, but they play old school films. Another really cool thing I’ve noticed is that there are a lot of Spanish speakers in South Bay. I should start learning some Spanish.

Alright, that’s all for now. I’m hoping to do more blogging in the next few weeks now that I’m a little more free. More to come, thanks for reading!

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Housing for Waterloo Students – Tips for Searching


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First Impressions of the Canon Elph 330 HS


Final exams are over, and I’ve been mainly relaxing at home, sleeping more, and shopping for my 4th co-op term. The weather is also having its ups and downs. Yesterday it was a beautiful, sunny ~21 degrees. Today, is a muggy, rainy ~16 degrees. So in recent events, I lost my digital camera. :( I’ve had this camera since Dec 2008 – the Canon PowerShot SD880 IS (Elph series). It was a pretty good digital camera for its time – 10MP, 4x zoom, a large variety of color/lighting/scene settings. Throughout the years, I’ve dropped it on the ground multiple times. It’s also survived being completely soaked in water. In the past month or so, the lens cover would get stuck when I turn on the camera, and I would have to manually open it (probably due to me dropping it while it was still turned on). This is when my friends started noting that I should upgrade, but I didn’t want to part with it yet. So yes, I lost it, after ~4 years of extensive use. Not happy that I lost it, but I really was due for an upgrade.

The Search for a Replacement.
I was considering a DSLR. But thinking more about it, I didn’t see myself carrying around such a huge camera everywhere. I don’t aim for extremely HQ photos shot at perfect angles. I aim for quick shots on a day of exploring or a night out. Photos of humans, rather than scenery. So yes, I stuck with the point-and-shoot realm. I also stuck with Canon because I am accustomed to the button arrangements and screen interface. I really can’t go wrong.

Now, which series?
I never really paid attention in the past, but there are 3 major digital camera series for Canon. The A-series, the Elph series, and the SX series. The SX series is a little more expensive because it’s an in between of digital camera and DSLR. The optical zoom is usually pretty high. The A-series is more for performance, and many of them allow AA(A?) batteries for power, which I find quite unnecessary for me. Also, I discovered that the Elph series has a lot more customization on colour and scene settings than the other series, so I decided to stick with it. I find that the colour settings allow my images to appear better when using flash. This is especially important when taking photos of humans. Many people have told me my photos have a very particular look, and yes, that’s because of Canon’s colour settings that I can apply to every photo.

So yes, the Elph series. It was between the 110, 130, 320, 520, and 330. The 320 and 520 were both complete touch screen cameras, so that was out of the question. The 110 and 130 are older models. It was really between the 130 (16MP, 8x zoom) and the 330 (12MP, 10x zoom), both wifi models. I chose the 330 (in black) because it apparently has a better processor and I prefer zoom over megapixels. The 330 also records 1080p video, while the 130 can only record at 720p. The price difference is about $30. Best Buy USA has it on sale for $200 (online only I think) but I decided to buy it here in Canada for $239 to save the hassle.

Day 1 of playing with the camera:
I love it. The only thing I miss about my old camera is the ability to scroll continuously and quickly through my photos via the circular dial. None of the newer Elph models have it (none of the old ones really had it, either, actually). I was worried that I wouldn’t be used to the tiny buttons.. I’m still getting used to them. They are placing priority on a larger display screen, so I guess it’s worth it. The lithium battery is also slightly smaller than my old camera’s, making the camera very light when carrying around. I love the texture and form factor; it’s easy to hold firmly and I don’t think I’ll have to worry about fingerprints at all.

The Wifi functionality isn’t too difficult to set up (despite the negative online reviews), but I haven’t gotten web services to work yet. Canon seems to have lack of support for Mac. I did get to try out CameraWindow, transferring my pictures to my Android device (can also do it on an iOS device). This is definitely convenient. My main purpose of taking photos is to share them onto some kind of social networking service. It’s a hassle having to take out my SD card, copy the photos somewhere (either manually or through iPhoto), and uploading it through the web. iPhoto is always giving me problems now, too, so I refrain from using it. I have never actually used Canon’s image transferring tools (don’t plan to), so I cannot comment on that. There is also this extremely convenient option that allows you to resize the images to 1600×1200 or 640×480 when using CameraWindow for quick and easy uploads via mobile.

So far I am very happy with my new 330, and will update this post with some sample shots after a few weeks of usage.