San Diego – Day Three – When Animals Get Wild!

Day three brought us to the San Diego Zoo Wild Animal Park.

Which constitutes a lot of walking and driving around looking at animals. ’nuff said.

Afterwards we explored the area, bought some “fresh” california produce from a roadside stand and stopped at Famer Boys Hamburgers, for a decent, if unremarkable late lunch.

That put us, unfortunately, at what is commonly called “an inopportune time” to be crossing town: rush hour.

We dodged into a nearby mall to kill some time. What we found was an Apple Store. Inside, I discovered that they had released a “Mac/iPhoto” edition of the EyeFi Wireless SD card, which not only uploads your photos wirelessly to you computer, but geotags them using the skyhook method. It’s a little expensive for a 2GB SD card, but I decided (after having spent last evening manually geotagging yesterday’s photos) that it might be a valuable addition to our vacation enjoyment.

(Typically, when I’m out and planning on geotagging, as was did today, I take my Garmin GPS and run it all day while I’m out and about. When I offload the pictures at the end of the day, I use HoudahGeo to synchronize the GPS track log and geotag all my photos. It works pretty well, but it would still be better if the photos were tagged as they were taken.)

We got back to the hotel room and I tried to setup the EyeFi card. That’s where the problems began.

The EyeFi card doesn’t quite work the way I expected. I had assumed (somewhat incorrectly) that the device communicated wirelessly with your computer, but rather it’s a device attached to your wireless network. Perhaps if I explain the setup the problem will become more obvious. I’ll stress here that the problem wasn’t with the EyeFi card, but with the resources I had available to me and my hopes of getting the card working for the rest of the trip.

The Woodfin San Diego, that we’re staying at, has wired internet in the rooms, for which they charge $6 a day. Yesterday, I signed up for two days’ worth, since we’ll be leaving tomorrow early. I thought I’d be clever (I’ve done this before) and I brought my Airport Express, which I connected to the wired network, and then connected to with my MacBook. As with most of these places, upon first use of the web you’re presented with the hotels terms and conditions plus, in this case, the ability to purchase internet access. I had expected that this would properly activate the internet for any device (such as my iPhone as well as my MacBook) over the wireless network, but it didn’t work out that way. Only the MacBook was authorized. A pity, but not a real problem – or so I thought. I continued to use the Airport Express because it was more convenient to be able to haul the computer around.

Along come the EyeFi card.

The EyeFi comes with a card reader (required for setup and handy, since I didn’t bring one with me). You plug the card and reader into the Mac and you load the software that is embedded on the SD card. The EyeFi software fires up on the Mac, you register an account with them (over the internet) and then you’re ready to initialize the card.

Problem: The card cannot be initialized without reaching their servers over the net, and it must do so wirelessly through your network, not using the computer’s pre-existing connection to EyeFi’s servers. This cannot be done on networks that force you to an agreement page, so I was stuck.

Next bright idea: I’d switch my MacBook to using the wired connection and then share my internet over the MacBook’s wireless. I’d then reconfigure the EyeFi setup to use the shared network instead of the Airport Express. That didn’t fly because the hotel network recognized the MacBook over the wired connection to be a different machine and forced me to pay for more internet, which I’m not going to do.

My hopes of using the EyeFi tomorrow are dashed, but hopefully the “complimentary” internet at the Omni will allow me to set it up just in time for our return drive to Phoenix.

For dinner we went to a strange little place called Jollibee, a Philippine-based fast food chain that specializes in hamburgers, fried chicken, spaghetti and a local rice/shrimp dish.

Irene ate some of James’ spaghetti and nostalgically said it tasted “…just like spaghetti did when I was growing up (in Taiwan)”. The fried chicken also had a familiar, “back home” taste to her. I was impressed, it was easily the hottest, most spicy fried chicken I’ve ever had. Curious place, and it was frequented by quite a few people who looked to be Filipinos. Pity they don’t have any in Arizona.