Category Archives: Caribbean

A Return To Windows

Blackbeard’s Castle in St. Thomas USVI

Long-time readers will recall that a little over 3 years I embarked on a project to build my own computer.  With my son’s expert assistance (as in he did all the hard work) I built a PC from parts and installed Apple’s OSX on it – a “Hackintosh.”  I had been a Mac user for a long time, originally purchasing a Powerbook, then an iMac and more recently a MacBook Pro.  I needed a new computer then and liked the idea of building my own, and was intrigued by the idea of running OSX on it.

Wandering the streets of St Thomas, USVI

For those who like messing around with computers, building a computer can be a fun and interesting challenge.  For people like me who mostly just want to have a reliable and reasonably competent tool, the time and effort required to keep up with software updates and the workarounds required to run a non-native program on a computer got to be more than I was interested in doing.  More recently I started running into problems with the App Store telling me that the software was up to date, but the part that Adobe CC looks at to determine if I am able to run the latest version of their software thought it was an older version.  The steps required to fix that problem didn’t seem to work, and I finally decided to make a change.  Also, I was never able to get my Canon printer to run on the Hackintosh.

The Hotel 1829 in St Thomas, USVI

My choices essentially came down to two.  I could shell out the money for a new Mac, but new Macs are quite pricey these days, and the ones that I thought I needed to do the job are several years out of date.  Probably OK for my needs, but I was having a hard time with the idea of spending a bunch of money on a new computer, just to end up with my current box sitting idle and useless.  My second option was to install Windows on my current computer and run the software for which all the parts were intended.  It’s still a very capable computer, with a fast processor, 500GB SSD and two 2TB hard drives, lots of memory and a good video card.  So that was what I decided to do.

Wandering the streets of St Thomas, USVI

With my son’s help (gracias, Kevin!) I mapped out the steps required to replace everything I used on the Mac with its equivalent on Windows.  And it actually wasn’t much because I don’t use a lot of stuff – the two biggest challenges were (1) moving my photo files – 4 hard drives in all including backups – from Mac-formatted hard drives to Windows-formatted hard drives, and (2) finding a suitable replacement for my backup software.

Wandering the streets of St Thomas, USVI

The Mac vs. Windows arguments have been going on for years, much like the Canon-Nikon-Fuji-Olympus-Sony-Etc. arguments for cameras.  But when it comes right down to it there just isn’t a lot of difference between them these days.  I use a Windows computer at work, so other than having to remember to close or minimize from the right instead of the left, they’re essentially the same.  Lightroom and Photoshop look and act the same, Chrome looks the same, and Office for Windows is pretty much the same as Office for Mac.  A few other odds and ends and I’m pretty well covered.

Wandering the streets of St Thomas, USVI

I’m not going to go into a lot of details on how I solved the two problems because I don’t have the expertise to answer questions.  For the transfer of photos I purchased software from Paragon Software called HFS+ for Windows.  That allowed me to see the Mac-formatted (HFS+) hard drives so I could copy the data over to newly-formatted Windows (NTFS) hard drives.  I originally intended to use Paragon’s Backup & Recovery software, but just couldn’t get comfortable with how it worked.  I ended up buying GoodSync, which works more like the SuperDuper that I used on the Mac.  There is no Windows version of SuperDuper, but GoodSync comes pretty close.  I may experiment with other software, but so far it seems to do the job.

Wandering the streets of St Thomas, USVI

At this point I’m most of the way finished with the conversion.  My two external backup drives are still in Mac format, as I want to be sure that all the Windows stuff is operating correctly before I wipe out those drives and copy the backups to them.  There is probably a slight risk there, but I think it is wise to be sure before committing.  And I haven’t tried to hook up the printer yet.  Hopefully this weekend will give me time for that project.  Since it involves starting up the printer and wasting a certain amount of ink, I want to be sure I have adequate time to complete the process!

Aboard Norwegian Epic departing St Thomas

So that’s pretty much it!  Over the course of the last 18 months or so I’ve gone from a Canon user to a Fuji user, and from a Mac user to a Windows user.  But I’ll bet you won’t notice any difference in my photos from either move.  And hopefully I’ll be able to forget about the computer for a while and just go take photos!

The Soggy Dollar

A visit to the Soggy Dollar Bar on our shore excursion to Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands

One of the stops on our latest cruise was Tortola, an island in the British Virgin Islands.  Kathy & I had been to Tortola only once before, and had forgotten how much we loved the area, the islands, the scenery and the people.  The itinerary for this cruise put us in port for only a part of the day, so our options for things to do were limited.  I checked with a few private operators for a sailing cruise around the islands, but because of our limited time in port they could not offer us anything that would work.  We could have done an island tour in a taxi, but spending 3 hours riding around in a van was not on our list of goals!  Fortunately the cruise line offered a catamaran cruise to Jost Van Dyke, specifically to a place called the Soggy Dollar Bar.

A visit to the Soggy Dollar Bar on our shore excursion to Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands

The Soggy Dollar Bar is a famous beach bar on the island of Jost Van Dyke and is reputed to be the birthplace of the popular drink known as the Painkiller.  The Soggy Dollar Bar is so-named because when it was built there was neither a road nor a dock.  To reach the beach where the bar is located, it is a common practice for boaters to anchor off the beach, swim to shore, and pay for their drinks with wet money.  Thus the name “Soggy Dollar.”

One Love Beach Bar at White Bay, Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands
A visit to the Soggy Dollar Bar on our shore excursion to Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands
A visit to the Soggy Dollar Bar on our shore excursion to Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands

The only downside of this tour was that it was scheduled to meet at 7:00am!  So we set the alarm for an early wake-up, caught a bit of breakfast on the ship, and headed off to meet our tour.  Once we got underway it was about an hour’s sail to Jost Van Dyke, and we ended up at the Soggy Dollar about 9:00am.  Usually a little early to start drinking, but in the islands….  Besides, you can’t drink all day unless you get an early start.

Shore excursion to Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands
Shore excursion to Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands

My dollars weren’t soggy, but they spent just fine and I managed to have a few Painkillers.  The Soggy Dollar makes its own rum and Painkiller mix, and it is quite good.  Unfortunately they don’t sell it, so you have to enjoy it there.  And we did!  I suppose how much pain they kill depends on a person’s tolerance.  I have a fairly strict training regimen so I didn’t have too much difficulty with two, but there were obviously a few amateurs among the group!

Monte Stevens’ secret hideaway on Tortola, British Virgin Islands
Rebel Yell, our ride to Jost Van Dyke and back
Random photos in Roadtown Tortola, British Virgin Islands

Our Latest Adventure

Aboard Norwegian Epic

It’s hard to believe, but until a few weeks ago we hadn’t been on a cruise in over 2 years.  It’s especially hard to believe when we had previously averaged almost 2 per year for a number of years before that.  Our son Kevin recently sailed on a Norwegian Cruise Line ship and liked it so much he did another one late last year and has several more on the calendar.  On his advice we decided to give it a try and booked a week on Norwegian Epic out of Port Canaveral, with stops in St. Thomas, Tortola and Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian’s private island in the Bahamas.  This isn’t intended to be a cruise review, so I don’t plan to go into a lot of detail about the cruise other than to say that it was good to be back on a ship, the food was good and we had excellent weather.

Aboard Norwegian Epic
Aboard Norwegian Epic
Aboard Norwegian Epic

While we have friends that live and have lived in Florida, we generally think of Florida as a place to go to get on a cruise ship.  But we decided to do this vacation a little differently and check out some towns that we have heard about but hadn’t previously visited.  That led us to New Smyrna Beach and to St. Augustine.  I’ll have more about those places in another post, but wanted to get something written about the cruise itself and share a few photos.

Aboard Norwegian Epic
Aboard Norwegian Epic
Aboard Norwegian Epic

A couple of our ports involved the possibility of wading in salt water, which of course is not friendly to cameras or other electronics.  So I convinced myself that I needed to have a compact waterproof camera in the event we got wet, and purchased an Olympus “Tough TG-4” point & shoot.  It got good reviews and had a reasonable pricetag, so I bought one.  In fact, these photos are all from that camera.  I also took the Fuji, and it managed to make its share of photos too.

Aboard Norwegian Epic
Aboard Norwegian Epic
Aboard Norwegian Epic

Unfortunately, I never had a chance to test the waterproofness of the Olympus.  Our catamaran sail to Jost Van Dyke took us practically onto the beach and I barely got my shorts wet getting ashore.  And we ended up not going to the private island, preferring instead to enjoy the relative peace and quiet on the ship while most of the other 4,000+ passengers stood in line for drinks and a buffet lunch.  It also gave me a chance to take a few photos on board the ship without having to worry about the paranoid and camera shy.  I did say it wasn’t our first cruise!

Aboard Norwegian Epic
Aboard Norwegian Epic

Back in the Groove

Palm shadows at The Hotel 1829 in St Thomas, USVI

Kathy & I recently returned from our latest adventure – a 7-night cruise with some time in Florida before and after.  We missed seeing our first-ever space launch by 13 seconds, but otherwise had a great time and took a few photos.  This has been a busy week but the weekend may provide some time to catch up on processing.  In celebration of Friday (why not?) here is a photo to get the ball rolling.