Lockdown

May 11th, 2020

It is now May 2020 and the whole world has been in shutdown for 2 months now. Who would’ve imagined that our normal lives would come to such an abrupt stop in March 2020.

COVID-19 is wreaking havoc to countries and their health systems, and without a clear solution form anyone, we are all just stuck in our homes – in lockdown.

Some governments acted faster and better than others, and have managed to protect and save more of their people from this deadly virus, but everyone had to implement drastic measures to achieve even the smallest of results.

Australia has surprisingly come out on top in terms of its response and how well we managed to contain the spread and flatten the curve. Other advanced 1st world countries (looking at you USA and UK), were not so fortunate to have leaders who care about their people and their livelihoods.

We are all doing our part – staying home, social distancing, isolating ourselves from the world. Thats what each and every one of us can do, and should do, until there is a clear end in sight. Whether it be a vaccine or total eradication of the virus, either way we all need to just accept that our lives will not be returning to normal anytime soon.

This situation has brought a lot of uncertainty into our lives – with events canceled, travel banned, and any kind of future plans postponed. I had some big things planned for 2020 and 2021, but unfortunately they will have to take a step back until life gets back to normal (a new normal).

Stay home, stay safe, stop the spread.

Philippines

It’s more fun in the Philippines – 2020

March 14th, 2020

Another year, another family holiday. This time, amid the spreading health epidemic, we ended up traveling to the beautiful tropical islands of the Philippines. Like always the Brodsky family focused on 2 things, learning about the land and its the people, and relaxing on beautiful beaches of paradise. However, there was one thing that was very different from all of our past trips. A certain Japanese girl joined us on this trip! Thats right, my beautiful girlfriend Kotone came along for two weeks of fun in the Philippines.

While swimming in pools and the sea was a great way to spend the days, those the were not the only activities we took part in during our holiday. Kotone and I went snorkelling, and I also was able to fly my drone all over the place. The views of islands and the seas were absolutely breathtaking, and the fish in the sea we quite cute too. The people are kind, and the food was delicious. However it seems like the country is very divided between the rich and the poor, we saw brand new modern buildings being constructed next to slums and rubbish. The gab in wealth is very noticeable, so much so, that we occasionally refrained from venturing outside of our hotel, as we were worried about the area surrounding it.

Overall the Philippines was a great experience, and being together with my beloved made it ever more memorable. I hope the situation around the world improves, and we will be able to go to many more together.

As always, photos on my Flickr and Instagram stories

Japan 2019

November 19th, 2019

This trip was the most spontaneous thing trip I’ve ever planned, but it was definitely a very pleasant and memorable experience. I recently started dating a Japanese girl named Kotone, and this November was her brothers wedding party. She was planning on heading to Japan for a couple of days to attend the wedding party, and I decided to tag along. Her parents invited me to the party as well as an honorary guest, and even let me stay at their house for a few nights.

Our trip began by arriving to Central Japan International Airport (near Nagoya) and renting a car. Thats right, no bullet trains this time, just a car. We drove up to the town of Takayama, visited the old town, and bought some sake. Then we reached our first stop of the trip: Hirayuonsen hot-spring town. For 2 nights we stayed in the Sanganoyu Ryokan, where we got to experience the various onsens, and even rent a private one for a period of time. There isn’t much around the area aside from pristine forests and mountains, so it was the perfect place to relax and enjoy everything that mother nature has to show.

The second leg of our journey was spent in the big cities like Osaka and Nagoya. We went to Universal Studios Japan, the first “real” theme park I went to out of my own desire. I even challenged myself to ride one of the more thrilling rides in the park, and while it was terrifying, I can report that I am still alive and well.

Afterwards we headed to back to home base – Nagoya, more specifically Oguchi. Meeting the family was terrifying at first, but after the first dinner, it got a lot more comfortable. The Kamino family were very kind to me and treated me as if I was their own son. It was a pleasant experience, especially when my own home is 15,000km away. At the wedding party I was seated with the groom’s high school friends, so we had a lot of laughs and plenty to drink. The highlight of the wedding for me, aside from the obviously different wedding style in Japan (even though it was somewhat a western style wedding), was that the bride gave the bouquet of flowers to my girlfriend Kotone. Is this is a sign for the future? Who knows, but it was definitely a happy moment for both of us. On the last few days we visited Nagoya Castle, Legoland, and the Nagoya Train museum.

While this was a short trip, it was very eventful, and at the end of it neither of us wanted to head back to Sydney. But we have and now we need to build our future together!

A small number of photos available on my Flickr, the rest are hidden away on my iPhone.

Europe 2019 photo

Eurotrip 2019

September 10th, 2019

This year the Brodsky family decided to drive around Europe and visit 2 new countries: Belgium and Luxembourg. Being part of the family means, that I got to experience this as well and thus raised my country count to 56!

We started our journey in Germany, where after landing from 24 hours of flying, I met up with my parents, who spent the last few days driving / on a ferry. While I have previously been to Germany multiple times, this was my first time driving through the country. That was probably the highlight of the trip overall, the German Autobahns. I got to experience driving at speeds that could not imagine. But of course I made sure to stay safe and drive responsibly.

Next on our list was Belgium, and you know what belgium is famous for? Beer! Thats right, Belgium has hundreds, even thousands of different types of beer. So of course I had to try at least some. Every day for lunch and dinner (when not driving, of course), I tried a different type of Belgian beer. One special type of beer that my mom and I got really fond of is called Kriek, which means cherry. Cherry flavoured beers. Quite sweet, a bit sour, but not bitter. After trying one, we couldn’t resist to buy at least 18 more. The cities of Brugge, Ghent and Dinant were beautiful examples of old Europe. To be honest every city we visited during the whole trip was beautiful, that’s why the majority of the photos are of buildings and not landscapes this time around.

During our travels, we love ticking off new countries of our list, and so we just couldn’t resist not stopping in Luxembourg for an afternoon. The country itself is tiny, and the old city was just like the others, it was still an interesting place to visit for a day.

And then last, but not least, was France. France was a bit harder to travel through than I originally expected, but thanks to Google Translate and its live camera translation features, we managed to overcome all the struggles in restaurants and shops. We had plenty of whine and Champagne in France, and I even got to try the famous french snails – Escargots (they were really good). We stopped by the city of Djon, yes the one with all the mustard, and we bought some mustard there. Finally at the end of our trip, we went to this small town of Requewhir, which looks just like it came out of a fairy tale. The buildings are all colourful and the structures themselves are from medieval times. They looked absolutely stunning from the ground (unfortunately not as well from drone height).

The last stop on our trip was the town of Baden-Baden in Germany, where we visited the famous hot spring baths, and had some great German food at a beer garden.

All the photos from both my camera and drone can be found on my Flickr.

GUTS code

G.U.T.S. – The future of SMASH! ticketing.

August 1st, 2019

SMASH!, the largest anime convention in Australia, with over 22,000 people coming annually. And to support this convention we have a range of systems: website, recruitment, and ticketing. And now, in 2019, we have to rewrite the ticketing system from scratch. As a bit of backstory, let me tell you how we ended up in this situation.

The backstory of SMASH! ticketing systems

SMASH! is purely volunteer run, and because of that, it simply lacks the necessary funding to pay for expensive systems like Ticketek or Eventbrite. However SMASH! is run on passion, passion of people from all sorts of backgrounds. And who would have thought that the majority a lot of people who want to dedicate their free time to help grow such convention are IT professionals working in the field. And what do IT guys and girls like doing more than hacking systems? – that’s right, building new systems! So at some point, the IT team of SMASH! built it own ticketing system (frontend and backend), and payment link system, and pass issuing system, and local redemption system and infrastructure. One might ask why build so many systems? The answer is always simple: cause there was a need for it.

With 5 systems, maintaining them became quite the challenge, and all of 2018 was spent to just support the existing systems and add 2 minor features. However it became clear that something needed to change when the 2 tech leads, who built the ticketing system and payment link system, retired from SMASH! after 8 years of service, each.

So even before SMASH! 2018 weekend happened, Yaakov and I started taking about the future of SMASH! ticketing.

The decision

We had 4 options and we had to make a choice… Read More

Cliff side photo from drone

Photography, from a different angle

July 29th, 2019

For the longest time I have been taking photos with a DSLR camera, and sometimes with my iPhone. Recently however, I’ve been tempted by the beautiful photos from all these photobloggers and instagrammers, who capture absolutely stunning shots from angles that are near impossible, unless you have a device that can fly.

So after some consideration, I decided to spend a bit of cash and buy myself a drone – named Senkuu. I went for the DJI Mavic Air with the fly more combo (for the extra batteries), and so far its been performing absolutely amazingly. When flying it, I feel like I am a kid again, playing with a radio controlled toy, only this time its not a toy but a really amazing piece of technology that can help me capture the wonders of the world from an angle that I could not before.

I’ve taken quite a few shots with the drone and I am sure I will be taking plenty more.

You can find all the photos on my Flickr.

 

WiseCamping

May 7th, 2019

What better way to spend a weekend in May, than to go camping with your favourite coworkers! So we gathered Axle, Justin, Jordan, Josh, Cody, Mark, Tim, Kal, Steven, Sandra and myself together and set out to a campsite around Ulladulla.

We had 3 groups leave at different times, due to work commitments. Car 1 with Axle, Justin and Jordan left at midday and their job was to setup all the tents before nightfall. Little did we realise at the time, that none of them had much experience with setting up tents and that we would arrive to a disaster. Car 2 with myself, Cody, Kal, and Sandra departed at 4pm and we were carrying the food for the evening, the curry that Sandra and I cooked for everyone the night before. And Car 3 with Jordan, Josh, and Steven came last, as they got stuck buying stuff for the campfire.

We got there, re-setup the tents, had a camp fire, fought a possum, drank a lot, and then slept in the cold tents. Some people really struggled with the cold, but still managed to survive somehow. The next day we spent at the beach, in Ulladulla itself and just more drinking and partying.

I took some time to take some beautiful shots of the night sky, the milky way, and some light painting.

Overall everyone had a great time and I hope we can do this again soon!

Photos are on my Flickr.

Lightning Photography

February 12th, 2019

Have you ever wondered what it feels like being under a lightning cloud while in the middle of a desert? Well neither did I, until I was under a lightning cloud in the middle of a desert!

Over the weekend my photography mentor Anton and I set out on a sand dune photography trip. We did one of these a few years back, and it was really fun and produced a bunch of beautiful shots (check out the album from 2017). However this time there was 1 major difference – there was a storm heading toward Sydney that weekend.

Once we arrived at the Airbnb place, we straight away went to the dunes to get a glimpse of the storm, and we got exactly what we asked for. While it was not directly raining in the dunes, there were lightning clouds all around us. It was quite a frightening experience, but that’s the only way to get amazing shots like the one above.

Another highlight of this trip was that we were staying at a house of an oyster farmer. He showed us a drawing someone made in an oyster for him, so I asked him for 1 oyster as well to give to my friend Sandra to draw in. She took this photo that I took, and turned it into an oyster painting! How cool is that?!

The full album of the 2019 sand dune trip is available on my Flickr.

Skiing in Seefeld

January 5th, 2019

This Christmas & New Years I thought of giving my parents the best gift I could – myself. I hatched a plan, to buy tickets home and surprise them. However I needed to make sure that they wouldn’t be traveling somewhere, otherwise it would be a rather awkward situation. So I ended up collaborating with my dad to make sure that this plan would work and we would surprise mom.

So dad booked us a trip to Seefeld so we can all enjoy the Alps together and learn to ski, one catch: he didn’t tell mom about me coming. For about 5 months we managed to keep her in the dark, but then we ended up cracking. In November, about 4 weeks before my flights, we told mom about our secret plan. She was shocked that we would keep this from here, and that she never noticed the hints that we let slip.

Even though mom wasn’t too pleased with us keeping such a big secret from her, she was overjoyed to see me back home for the holidays and for us all to spend time together in the Alps.

This was the first real time I got to properly ski, and I think I did pretty ok. While I wasn’t brave enough to hit the slopes, I still managed to learn to cross country ski with a decent speed just after a few days of failing and falling. Surprisingly cross country skiing is a lot like ice skating, so I managed to pick it up quite quickly.

The whole time the weather was great, the food was amazing, and of course seeing my parents was a pleasure. After our mini holiday in Seefeld, we spent New Years at home in Riga eating traditional foods, watching our president(s) wish us a great new year and just have a good time together.

You can check out my adventures on my instagam: @jamiejakov (don’t forget to look at my stories).

Otherwise my DSLR photos are available on my Flickr

Sagiri

Welcome iSagiri

December 21st, 2018

iPad is a very interesting device category. It mostly fits between a laptop and a phone in terms of portability and comfort. However it gets closer to the phone in terms of productivity, but closer to the laptop in terms of screen realestate. So what gives? Why even own an iPad?

An iPad has its benefits and I believe that in a few iterations of iOS, the iPad will be able to do everything a laptop can do, and keep the benefits it has right now. That’s why I got myself a brand new iPad Pro 11″. Welcome to my iFamily – iSagiri.

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