Halloween Fun and a new Camera

While in Vietnam two weeks ago, I was introduced to a new camera, the Ricoh Theta S. It has a lens on each side and takes 360 degree photos and movies.

The camera is small and extremely light weight. Fits easily into a pocket, or with a small tripod into a purse or backpack.

The camera take selfies to a whole new level. For example, tonight’s Halloween visitors (try rotating the image with your mouse down):

Happy Halloween! From Kathmandu

 #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA



Somewhere from the cold and dark…

Years ago we participated in the National Geographic’s Genographic Project. We sent away our cheek swaps and they either tested the Y-Chromosome for male or the mitochondrial DNA for your female ancestors. No surprise, the Willises were some of the first cave dwellers in what is now Britain. Likely surviving through the millennia by being first in front of the fire, and habitually late to wars and other property conflicts.

Recent events have put me in touch with my cave dwelling forbearers. Dry weather has reduced the amount of hydro-electricity available to Nepal. The lack of fuel due to the blockade has both reduced the amount of gas available for personal generators and the LPG available for heaters.

It is dark. This was today’s power schedule:

The times indicate when the power is OFF. So today we had power for 4 hours, from noon to 4 PM. During the power ON time we charged our batteries… literally:
  • The house has a large battery inverter that keeps the internet running but not enough power to keep appliances running.
  • We charged a couple of lanterns, they can keep a room bright for about 6 hours.
  • We have small LED lights stuck on the walls powered by rechargeable batteries.
  • Charge the laptops, thank goodness the MacBook Airs have a long battery life.
  • Charge the iPhones (also our backup internet if the inverter fails).

It is not terribly cold here, but cold enough that we don’t worry about the food spoiling in the refrigerator. The house doesn’t get warm. No heating. The cold morning fog seeps through window sills, and crawls beneath the gaps in the doors. It clings to everything and sucks out the warmth by your touch as sure as a vampires embrace.

We walk through the house in long underwear, fleeces, and down booties. The house is large. During the winter we don’t use the second floor at all. The third floor only for the laundry (when there is power). And on the ground floor we only use the kitchen and dining room during our waking hours. In bed, I don’t do my normal toss and turn. Beneath the 10 inches of blankets and down, I am pinned as well as any insect on a display board. Even so, it is my favorite place.

 In the evening the heavy curtains are drawn over our openings to the world. We sit before the glow of modern technology. We are in our cave.

ChromeWorld – Day 1

This is the second episode of a series:

This isn’t easy.

I’m not sure I can do this for a week, let alone a whole month. I want to learn how to do it, but stay productive at the same time… I have a job to do and slack time is not included.

Challenge 1: Make my Mac a ChromeBook.

I opened the Chrome browser on my Mac and maximized the screen. I did this for my three profiles I have in Chrome (one personal and two work related). The latest version of MacOS, El Capitan, has a nice swipe-up feature that allows me to easily switch personalities in full screen.

It is not exactly a ChromeBook, but if I stay in this environment, I can simulate Chrome Desktop.

Challenge 2: Quick – Take a screenshot and mark it up with directions.

I do this all the time to show staff how-to work on a computer, sometimes that includes ScreenCasting, but not today. All I had to do was take a screenshot, add 5 labels and arrows to the picture with directions.

On the Mac, I use the screen capture key combination of “command-shift-4” to draw a box around the the part of screen I want saved as a picture. Because I customized this using a trick from OS X Daily (see here), all of my screen captures are saved in a single folder.

ChromeBooks have a similar option. but I found it a real effort to draw on the picture.

I use Preview on the Mac to add text and arrows to the picture for directions, and then email picture to the staff. I thought I could just upload the photo to Google Drawing, but it wasn’t opening the .png file in Drawing. I could add the file to Google Drive, but the suggest apps for opening it, did not include Drawing. Fortunately I had just added the free app SketchPad 3.5 to my Chrome desktop yesterday. It is very easy to use and included some nice drawing tools. Sorry Preview, but I may have found a new way of doing things when this experiment is over.

Challenge 3: Organize Photos for a presentation

Google Photos. Hands down one of the easiest tools I have used. Unlimited storages space for your photos if they are under 16mb in size. For this experiment I had copied hundreds of earthquake related photos out of my usual repository.

Today I uploaded and organized the photos using this program.

The app also has a nice editor. The editor is not a replacement for Adobe Photoshop, but has the tools I use 90% of the time, and all I need for making my presentation.

Everything else I did today was directly related to using the same Chrome apps I used the day before. Many of the tools we all use are in the browser now, so maybe this will not be such a big challenge after all.

ChromeWorld… An Experiment

My Reflection in Chrome


  • Is it possible to use only Google Chrome on my MacBook Air at school for a month? 
  • Will I be able to survive the month using only Chrome Apps and nothing else? 
  • Will I find the equivalent apps on Chrome that I use daily on my Mac?
  • Will I find happiness in my Chrome reflections?

I think it is possible for this MacCentric individual to adapt to a Chrome world, but I want to find the stumbling blocks along the way. I am responsible for our school’s BYOD program. It is important for me to discover if parents can save hundreds of dollars each year. For example, the cost difference between a MacBook Air and a good Chromebook can be about $600. I’ll set the life-span for a laptop to 3 years, so that would be a savings of $200/yr, or a total savings of $20k for our community with around 100 students in the secondary.

There will be challenges. I use MS Office a lot and I really like using Excel. I do a lot of web development and use Text Wrangler to clean up my scripts. In two weeks, I am part of a three person team giving a presentation in Abu Dhabi. I promised to create at least two video segments and a couple of slide shows. Will this work without iMovie? I use Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator at least once a day at work. How will I mark up screen captures without Preview?

More than ever, I would appreciate your comments, guidance, and feedback. I will try to keep a diary of my weekday exploits in a ChromeWorld.

Day 1 will be October 7.