Random: 3M Views, Birthday Analysis and Taronga Zoo

“It’s been a while since I last posted.”
“A lot has happened since my last posting …”

It’s unfortunate, but I’m afraid that this might be the way I start most of my posts in the future. Life has become extremely busy and the [time, energy, motivation] to post has been a little lacking. While this doesn’t mean I’m not doing interesting stuff, it usually means I don’t have the time to post about it or even document it fully. But seeing as I have a scrap of time this evening, I thought I’d crank out this rather timely post.

Three Million Views

When the site hit two million views on 24th November 2016, I was quite honoured. At 11:15am on 18th April, the site ticked over the three-millionth page view. Having recently been preoccupied with job hunting, applications, psychrometric testing, selection criteria, video interviews and assessment centres, the blog really wasn’t something that was on my mind.

But the number itself is amazing. Three million. There’s not too many things I can definitely say I have three million of. Of course, the easy answer is probably atoms, seconds of life, etc. But three million views? If each view lasted just one minute, that would be about 5.7 years of time. Or, roughly, how long the site has been online …

The stats accordingly look like this:

  • 25 Jan 2013 to 3 Sept 2015 (cumulative 1M views, 951 days, 665 posts)
  • 3 Sept 2015 to 24 Nov 2016 (cumulative 2M views, +448 days, +233 posts)
  • 24 Nov 2016 to 18 Apr 2018 (cumulative 3M views, +510 days, +111 posts)

I suppose it’s not surprising that this last million views took longer than the previous million, as I put out about half the number of posts in the interim. In a sense, it confirms the popularity of the older articles. In another, I feel almost undeserving, because I really haven’t had the chance to put out more interesting stuff. Very often, the data is all lined up and the images are ready, but I just need to write!

Nonetheless, a million more views is a milestone. In recognition of this milestone, I did the only thing I normally do … update the banner image!

As usual, thanks to my readers and commenters for making this happen. Your support makes my time blogging even more worthwhile than it would otherwise be.

Happy Birthday … to Me!

Alas, it’s also that time of year. Last year, I was so ridiculously late with my birthday post that it was almost shameful. As a result, this year’s is a bit closer to being on time.

The whole birthday-wishing-on-Facebook routine is so old now that even I am getting tired of saying “Thank you” in reply to each of the (few) postings. As a result, I’ll just say a collective “Thank you” here.

Now, to the main attraction – that of the Happy Birthday Wall Forecast. As it turns out, last year’s expectations that the messages would probably decrease was met with agreement. This year, I received one fewer message than last year, nicely fitting the trend.

However, this would only be true if I counted the messages which were posted on time, on the day of my birthday. If I counted the late messages, then it would have been equal to last year (at a total of 10). In keeping with prior years, it seems that this year’s messages are almost entirely of the generic variety. Programmed social interaction at its finest.

Only a slight decrease is seen in the percentage of friends graph. This is mainly due to the one-less-message this year, as my friend count remains constant. This is despite gaining a few friends, as others may have left Facebook for good.

In the past, I predicted turmoil for Facebook sometime in 2017-2018 (optimistically) based on a crude linear extrapolation. But that could have been truer than I had anticipated with the Cambridge Analytica scandal bringing the privacy and personal data issue to the fore. After all, anything posted online can be scraped, stored and analyzed. Accordingly, movements that encourage the abandonment of Facebook have gained some momentum but not enough to mortally injure Facebook. In a sense, I’m not ready to give up Facebook, but then I do realize that there really isn’t much utility that I get from Facebook either.

My Birthday with Taronga

Spending my birthday with Taronga has become a routine ever since the $1 offer. This year is no different, so I wasn’t going to let the opportunity pass. The weather last year was not particularly good, raining on me. I was hoping that this year would not be a repeat, but even the day before, the Bureau predicted rain with an 80% chance of up to 10mm. I was ready to call it off.

However, that morning, the sky was clear and the sun was out. The revised forecast was much less threatening at just 1mm. I decided to go, as there were some new exhibits as some of the renovations that were previously in-progress would be completed.

This time, instead of catching the ferry which is a bit more expensive, I decided to do the bus route via M30 over the harbour bridge as I never did that before. The bus runs at a leisurely pace through Neutral Bay and Mosman, so it does feel a little drawn out. But I did enjoy the ride nonetheless, which leaves you practically at the front door of the zoo.

A trip to the zoo is always a good chance to get some interesting photos, so I packed the camera bag. Unfortunately, it seems my D3300 might be on its last legs. With about 90,000 actuations under its belt, having travelled on my major holiday last year, its hotshoe is intermittent and central focus spot is faultering. It often either front/rear focuses significantly or never locks at all. Cleaning the insides and changing the lens had no effect whatsoever. It’s a shame as it’s the only cross type sensor in the budget DSLR body, the most sensitive and accurate one. It’s also arguably the most important focus point as well. Instead, I had to rely on the peripheral point type phase sensors.

The lens arsenal this time around consists of a Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8, Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR and Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 for coverage of almost all situations.

It was slightly unfortunate that my birthday falls on a school holiday break, resulting in queues and crowds. Instead of a comfortable stroll around the precinct, at times it turned into a crowd-cutting, pram-dodging exercise. Other times, it was a bit of a challenge to get a good vantage point for a photo without a kid’s head in the way. But that’s life in a nutshell and I don’t get to pick and choose when to enter with the $1 deal. It’s only $1 after all …

One attraction of going to Taronga is not the animals – it’s the clear panoramic view of the city that you get on a good day! I feel right at home …

The reduced admission offer lines up with continued renovations to the zoo, which means a number of exhibits are relocated or unavailable. This is rather unfortunate for tourists and full-fee patrons, but there’s still a decent amount to see.

One of the things I noticed in the previous trip was the Taronga Centenary Theatre that was under construction. This time around, it’s ready for show, with a program run every 15 minutes.

The program is a bit of self-promotion and education wrapped into a dramatisation mainly targeted at younger audiences. It ties in with the zoo’s thematic “Wild Squad” which encourages audiences to be active in advocating “For the Wild”.

The theatre itself has a particularly unusual design.

The screen wraps around, with the field of view depending on where you sit. I chose to sit further back so it’s about 180 degrees and I can absorb “all” that is on screen. It seems three projectors are used to generate the image. As I didn’t want to anger anyone, I decided not to take any pictures of the audio-visual presentation itself. Unfortunately, the design has the lower exit doors impinge on the projection area, with the door seams being a distracting line in the projected image.

The giraffe pen was undergoing some renovations, but the giraffes didn’t seem too bothered. I managed to catch them around feeding time, so they were doing a good job of warming up their tongues for some carrot sticks. I didn’t notice it last time, but their tongues are a bit of a grey-blue colour … how foreign.

The chimpanzees were pretty active too. This mother had a bit of difficulty keeping the kids in check … something a lot of humans could probably relate to.

The elephants seemed a little less reclusive this time, enjoying the sun.

But one of the main reasons for my visit this time was to see the Sumatran Tiger exhibit. The Tiger Trek exhibit is quite an interesting one, beginning with a Tiger inspired air-plane simulation and themed exhibit that makes for an immersive experience.

Being reclusive solitary creatures, chances of spotting them were not particularly high. Some visitors were saying that you’d have to wait for a while to see even a glimpse of one through the glass.

But I got lucky. Within minutes of rocking up to an empty gallery, the tiger decided to come out of hiding. But then, so did the kids which came stampeding to the gallery.

Rather unexpectedly, this tiger decided not to be shy and decided to romp over to the window to parade in front of us for a few seconds. The scratches and dirt on the window weren’t ideal, but at least I got a shot.

This bird was spotted in the palm aviary …

… and this couple was spotted in the pen where the Binturong should have been. A fine demonstration of sexual dimorphism.

The gorilla area was also a nice photography opportunity. Mother and child having a feed … I wonder if the mother’s shy?

There’s another baby gorilla in the corner that’s awfully cute … playing around with straw.

In the Australian corner, the emus were not afraid to get close to us. The wallabies and kangaroos were a bit thin on the ground though.

I almost mistook this person as someone working on construction … but instead, it’s part of the Wild Ropes course for those who are a little more adventurous and unafraid of heights. Not me. Definitely not me.


It’s milestones all round – another year on the clock, another million on the pageviews count, another visit to Taronga Zoo. Probably, another camera body soon too. While I would love to write more as I have lots to share, somehow I think that might be quite difficult in the coming months. I’ll try my best.

About lui_gough

I'm a bit of a nut for electronics, computing, photography, radio, satellite and other technical hobbies. Click for more about me!
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