Cooking in Seminyak

Balinese Cooking Class at The Amala

During our recent holiday in Bali, we took the Balinese Cooking Class at the Amala Seminyak resort, with head chef Wayan.

Bali 2016 432


We were picked up from our hotel spot on time, and then taken on the (optional) tour of the main fish market in the city, with Chef Wayan personally taking us around the stalls, identifying the different fish and explaining how to choose the freshest picks. He did much the same at the adjoining vegetable market. Chef Wayan selected a piece of fish that we would cook in our class.

Afterwards we returned to the Amala, to an open air under-cover kitchen by the pool that had been carefully prepared with a stunning array of fresh spices and other ingredients. Our selected fish was taken away for cleaning and cutting. After a welcome drink, we were then guided through the preparation and cooking of ingredients, starting with the ‘Base Gede’ (spicy chilli paste), and continuing with Lawar Salad (green bean and chicken), Tum Ikan (main course steamed fish in banana leaf) and ‘Dadar Gulung’ (coconut pancake dessert).

Once we finished cooking we were seated at a beautifully laid-out table overlooking a pool in the Amala’s courtyard, and our personal waiter served wine along with the delicious food that we had prepared under Chef Wayan’s attentive guidance.

At the end we received a certificate, the recipes of the dishes prepared, and were able to keep our aprons. Of course, the real reward was the wonderful experience we enjoyed.

This half day experience was a superb opportunity to be guided through the preparation of what was a 5 star, 3 course meal by a master chef in a spectacular location.

We would go back to Seminyak just to do another cooking class with Wayan.

Playing around with Plotagraph Pro.

Plotagraph Pro is a new tool that adds movement to still images.

I love the art and process of still photography, but can’t deny that movement draws the eye and the ability to add movement to an image presents an exciting opportunity to add a new dimension to the still photographer’s toolkit.

I first heard about Plotagraph Pro from a tweet or newsletter by Trey Ratcliff (can’t remember which), and have seen a small number of other photographers posting images they have enhanced with the tool.

Plotagraph Pro is a web based tool that works on all modern web browsers1, thus making it a tool that works on both macOS and Windows. On the flip side, this means that you can only use the tool when online, something that the travelling photographer can’t always achieve.

So far I’ve played around with a couple of my images, and I am quite happy with the potential.

The above image (The Surface from Below) was a single RAW image created on my Nikon D200 during a trip to Papua New Guinea. It is thus not a new image. It took a bit of playing around to get just the surface water to move, but once I worked out how to achieve this, I think the result is quite good.

This image was created last year near the spectacular Mont Saint-Michel in France. This took a bit of work to get just the clouds to move, and while I like this image, I want to get a bit more smoothness in the cloud movement.

Plotagraph Pro is currently in beta, and I am certainly impressed with the quality of the output. I will look forward to seeing some fine tuning of the user interface to get to the end result.

Personally I am very interested to see how Plotagraph develops, and how it spurns a new generation of photo editing applications. I haven’t decided yet if I’ll stick with this tool in this incarnation – it is very expensive2 for a tool that effectively performs one trick, especially when it is a trick that you might use on a small percentage of your images.

Trey Ratcliff has posted a good tutorial about using Plotagraph on his YouTube channel.

As an aside this is the first post I’ve made using Ulysses posting directly to my WordPress site. I’ve used Byword in the past, but there is a lot to love about Ulysses.

  1. I have found that Plotagraph Pro works much better in Chrome than in Safari.
  2. US$299 as a special offer for the beta program. For us in Australia this means software that costs over $400.

Istanbul Street Car

Istanbul Street Car

Istanbul Street Car

I had a wonderful opportunity to travel around the world last year, and one of the interesting cities we visited was Istanbul.

Unfortunately Istanbul has been in the news for all the wrong reasons recently – terrorism and attempted coups.

There were many aspects of Istanbul I found to be spectacular, not the least of which was the main street with the tramline running straight down the middle.

It was a great city for street photography.

Trey’s Peak And Lightroom Mobile goes RAW

There have been a couple of pretty interesting photography related things happening in the last week.

Trey’s Peak

Earlier this week photographer Trey Ratcliff and photography accessory designer Peak Designs launched a kickstarter campaign for four new photography bag designs – two backpacks, a ‘tote’ bag and a sling bag.

Their goal was to achieve $500,000 to get the Kickstarter campaign off the ground, and the campaign is set to run for 60 days.

This is Peak Design’s sixth Kickstarter (and their second with Trey Ratcliff), and they smashed the records with over $1 million in committed backers in under 24 hours.

Peak Designs have developed a range of wonderful photo accessories, and have basically funded product development through Kickstarters. I believe they have never taken external investors. They are a massive example of how crowd funding can provide a different funding model.

But the lesson is that it’s not easy or automatic. Peak Designs have set about building quality products for photographers, and have gained customer loyalty by delivering a great customer experience through those products. Along the way they have gained the attention and partnership of key photographic mavens like Trey who bring their audience together with Peak’s.

An overnight sensation, five plus years in the making.

Lightroom Mobile (iOS) gets RAW

I am pretty excited about this. The iPad Pro is my tool of choice for on the go computing (and has been for years, but making it work with my photo workflow has been a big gap.

That’s changing with Adobe announcing that Version 2.4 of Lightroom Mobile supports RAW, along with other enhancements such as local adjustment tools.

Location independent photographer Elia Locardi was part of the beta testing of Lightroom Mobile version 2.4.

When I was asked to test out the new Adobe Lightroom Mobile for iOS–to see how it would hold up to my on-the-road raw processing workflow–I decided there was only one logical thing to be done to ensure success. Take the project to Greece!

Elia’s experience seems to back up the idea that this is the start of something interesting in the iOS RAW photo workflow space.

While Adobe Lightroom Mobile doesn’t contain all of the editing features of Lightroom Desktop yet, all of the most important editing features are present.

Be sure to take a look at Elia’s post where he discusses those important editing features . Also, take a look at the Lightroom Mobile for iOS video he produced on location in Greece.

Blue Jetty

Blue Jetty

Blue Jetty by Des Paroz on

With the sun set for the day, the crowds along Darwin’s shoreline had begun to go home, but some people stayed to enjoy the ‘blue hour’, a time when the sky provides some magical colour – if you keep an eye open for it. Or a lens….

This image is a composite of three images made while the camera was on a stable tripod, with each image being quite a long exposure, and then processed in Aurora HDR software.

The effect of the long exposures is to render a silky smoothness to what was actually a slightly choppy sea.

The blue hour is a great time for photography – different that the golden hour that occurs on the other side of the sun rise/set, and shooting both can provide some interesting variety in the space of a couple of hours.

As a matter of interest, compare this to ‘Red Jetty’, an image which was captured at the same location just as the sun was setting.

View this image on 500px or Flickr

A Darwin Storm

A Darwin Storm

So we’ve been living in Darwin for about six months now, and are coming to the end of our first wet season. It has, apparently, been one of the least wet wet seasons on record, but there have still been some pretty interesting storms come through.

Here’s a timelapse video of a storm as seen from our balcony this evening.

Darwin 20 Mar 16 from Des Paroz on Vimeo.


Thoughts on Evolving to an iPad Only Future

I’ve discussed previously about how more and more people are going iPad only, or at least iPad Primary. People like Federico Viticci have famously gone iPad only, and educator Fraser Spiers wonders if a MacBook Pro can substitute for an iPad Pro.

More and more people are sharing their adventures and epiphanies in going iPad Only, or iPad Primary, and I thought I might share some links to some of those stories…

Drew Coffman discusses his thoughts on Living With the iPad Pro. Clearly Drew has found that the iPad Pro is the ideal computing device for his current needs:

The thing that excites me more than anything is that the iPad Pro is such a young platform. Even with its flaws, I’m still enjoying it more than any other computer I’ve ever used. There’s plenty of room for the iPad (and iOS in general) to grow—but I’m no longer using today’s technology while dreaming of tomorrow’s. I’m more than happy with what exists in the present.

Meanwhile, Khoi Vinh comes to the conclusion that he isDone with MacBooks, though not with Macs:

But now, in contrast to my iPad, my laptop seems altogether much more cumbersome than I prefer to deal with. It’s much, much heavier and bulkier than my iPad, especially when you factor in its power supply and a carrying case.

He is speaking as a designer who relies on the powerful features available in macOS, yet his conclusion is that the best place for the high-end desktop OS is on his desktop, where he can have a high-end computer…

When I think about where I’m most productive with OS X, it’s always at my desk, where I have a huge monitor.

This makes a lot of sense. No matter how good a notebook computer is, a desktop running the same OS is always going to be more powerful and more flexible.

Ben Brooks is another who has a clear view on Why iOS is Compelling

iOS is my everything place now. It’s not only always with me, but it’s always in sync with itself. What’s on my iPad is on my iPhone

Justin Blanton made a prediction on Twitter in 2011 that looks like it might be closer to the truth than fantasy…

In a recent post Justin provides an update on the evolution to iPhone-only

nearly all of my professional (and personal) consumption can be done enjoyably from my iPhone or iPad; and almost all of my professional output is channeled through either email or Messenger, also easily handled by my iOS devices.

Clearly he broadened his thinking to include tablet devices, but he is actually upping the game on his prediction – he now thinks that iPhone 8 will be the tipping point. I like that he talks about the ‘enjoyability’ factor of using an iPhone or iPad.


Some of these above are going iPad Only, others are going iPad Primary (especially when mobile), and others are even moving to iPhone centric. The future of on-the-go computing is clearly going to be centred on nimble, portable devices like tablets and smartphones.

Notebook and laptop computers are far from dead, but the real place where a desktop OS like OSX or Windows delivers the greatest power will be on the desktop.

Around the Web for 7 Feb 2016

Around the Web for 7 Feb 2016

Talking to My Watch. Gabe at MacDrifter posted interesting thoughts on a $10 app (actually $14.99 in Australian dollars) – Drafts being his use case for an Apple Watch.

The Drafts Apple Watch app is a wonderfully futuristic way to write. Within two taps, I’m dictating real text that’s not a total mess.

I don’t just use it to dictate small bits of text. I can actually dictate long passages while looking like an idiot. But, the real trick is to dictate a bunch of small messages and then combine them in the Drafts app for export as one long document.

Meanwhile, The Incompetent Writer talks about a couple of ways of doing quick link posts from an iPad to a WordPress blog, also using Drafts.

But, of course, not all blogging is like that. Sometimes we are responding to another person’s post, or want to connect a few different arguments; sometimes we just want to fire off a quick piece that’s nothing more than a link, a quotation, and a comment.

Why should a short post take you a long time to write, when it doesn’t have to?

Here are two options for writing quicker “link” posts.

Completing The iPad Pro – The Smart Keyboard

I ordered my iPad Pro just over two weeks ago – and it arrived here in Darwin just two days later.

At the same time I considered purchasing the Smart Keyboard, but the expected delivery was 4–5 weeks, so I decided to wait and see what other options would come onto the market. I ordered a Smart Cover instead, which shipped the same day, but was sent separately and arrived five days later!

When it arrived the smart cover had been damaged in the mail, so I called Apple who have refunded the cover, and then decided to go and look locally at a couple of retailers[1] who had the cover in stock. Arriving at JB Hi Fi at Berrimah, I was surprised to find that they had a half dozen Smart Keyboards in stock[2]. I decided to purchase one, and am really glad that I did.

Having been a happy user of Logitech keyboards[3] for previous iPads I had grown used to the extra row of iOS specific keys for navigation (home, app switch), search and system contols (volume, brightness, etc), and was concerned that not having these would somehow limit my experience. Similarly I was concerned that the extra bulk and weight might diminish the utility of the Smart Keyboard.

I’ve been using the Smart Keyboard for about a week now, and love it. It makes the iPad Pro experience one that it both versatile and complete. The iPad Pro combined with the Smart Keyboard is a notebook computer alternative that will work for me[4].

It is still only a week, so I am sure my opinion will evolve, but here are my current thoughts on the Smart Keyboard.

  • The convenience of the integrated keyboard with a Smart Cover is outstanding.
  • The experience of the built in pairing is excellent. Plug and go in real life.
  • The integrated charging/powering from the iPad Pro battery is excellent. One less charger to worry about.
  • The lack of the extra row of iOS specific function keys has not turned out to be an issue for me. I like the app-specific smart key approach, and look forward to more app developers[5] building in support for these. That CMD+Space brings up Spotlight (search) and CMD+Tab brings up an app switcher is a great experience as there is consistency with
  • Any additional bulk/weight is negligible when compared with the standard Smart Cover for the iPad Pro[6].
  • Proportionally the addition of the Smart Keyboard adds less bulk/weight to the iPad Pro than a keyboard case like the Logitech Ultrathin does to an iPad Air[7].
  • I’d like backlighting, but not at the expense of extra size/bulk, so I think a happy medium has been reached.

My thoughts are along the same lines as the Initial Thoughts on the Apple iPad Pro Keyboard by MacSparky, who said

…the Apple keyboard has the right amount of balance between minimal profile and working keyboard that I think it is the keeper for me.

All in all, I am really happy with the Smart Keyboard so far. It is an awesome match with the iPad Pro, and I am keeping the Smart Keyboard on 24–7 as a cover with an integrated keyboard[8].

My iPad Pro and Smart Keyboard

  1. There is no Apple Store within 2,500km of Darwin, but the local JB HiFi and Harvey Norman stores have good Apple stocks.  ↩
  2. They also had Pencils in stock. As at 24 Dec 15, the Apple Online store is showing 4–5 weeks wait for the Pencil and 3–4 weeks for the Smart Keyboard. Harvey Norman had 13 Pencils & 12 Smart Keyboards on display that day.  ↩
  3. Both the Ultrathin keyboard/cover and Keys-to-Go keyboards  ↩
  4. For several years the month of March has been my iPads of March experiment where I’ve attempted to use only an iPad (and iPhone of course) as my on-the-go device, coupling these with a desktop at home (iMac) or work (generally a PC). Each year the iPad has gotten closer to the goal, but the iPad Pro realises it for me.  ↩
  5. Looking at you, Byword.  ↩
  6. Especially noting that the iPad Pro is already a larger device.  ↩
  7. I haven’t seen any of the third party keyboards for the iPad Pro in the wild yet, so can’t comment on those.  ↩
  8. I have subsequently been able to take a look at the Logitech Create keyboard for the iPad Pro. While it is a nice piece of kit with the function keys and backlighting, it is bulkier, and I honestly could not imagine using it as a permanent cover.  ↩

Around the Web for 16 Dec 15

I’ve been enjoying working and playing on the iPad Pro. It feels like the start of something new…

Checking in with the iPad Pro — MacSparky

I’m going to keep writing about this jumbo iPad as I use and wrap my head around it more. If you want something portable, this is definitely not the device for you. However for getting work done on an iOS device, the iPad Pro is pretty special.

Review: The iPad Pro is a line in the sand — 512 Pixels

The iPad isn’t going away, and if the iPad Pro has anything to say about it, all of us — even people who prefer the Mac — are going to be using tablets for work more and more.

And OS9.2 brings the power of 1Password to many more apps…

AgileBits Blog | iOS 9.2 adds 1Password to many new apps

Finally I returned home and was able to verify the amazing news: the 1Password App Extension API will simply appear in all Safari View Controllers in any app!