Archive for November, 2010

Nikon D7000

Park Cat_0362

It’s been three years since I bought my first Digital SLR camera. In the summer of 2007, just before my 9,000 mile trip by land from Japan to the UK, I invested in the Nikon D40x – an entry-level model that allowed me to get back to being creative with my photography, without breaking the bank.

Fast forward to 2010 and I’m back in Tokyo, surrounded by geeky friends armed with DSLRs that are leagues ahead of the D40x. Mostly in the prosumer category, these cameras are capable of stunning results in low light, something my old Nikon failed spectacularly at. Seeing the results online made me think about upgrading – the question was, how much was a I prepared to invest? The popular choice amongst my friends was the Nikon D700 – it was the D700 that @J3SSL33 kindly leant me for last week’s hugely successful Rock Challenge photo project). A beautiful camera indeed, but at about 220,000 yen (£1,700) it was beyond what I wanted to pay. Also, at almost 1 kilogram in weight it wasn’t as portable as I would have liked.


Two weeks ago I walked into Yodobashi Camera to see what the alternatives were, and what should I see but the brand new Nikon D7000. Released only a couple of months back, it has got rave reviews.

  • “Nikon’s most advanced camera at any price”
  • “The Nikon D7000 has technical performance better than every other Nikon DSLR priced under $7,500, and handles better than any Nikon DSLR, regardless of price.”

Hmm, seemed like this was the one to get. Unlike the D700 it can shoot full HD video, it weigh’s less, it has two SD card slots (not compact flash, meaning I can use Eye-fi cards), it shoots 6fps as oppose to 5fps …and at 130,000 yen (about £1,000) it costs about 90,000 yen less!

The big difference, other than price? It doesn’t have a full frame sensor. But I can live without that – the sensor it does have (XPEED 2 CMOS – 16.2mp 23.6 x 15.6mm) produces stunning results (and HUGE files – 20mb for the average RAW file, 10mb for JPEGs).

Park Cat_0366

So, yesterday I picked up both the Nikon D7000 and a 50mm f/1.8 lens. The lenses that came with my D40x work great on the new camera, so I now have a really nice set of three.

I’ve not really had a chance to use it yet, except for a few shots taken in the park this morning.

I must say, I’m delighted to once again have a great camera to hand. I love photography, but the last year has seen me almost stop altogether as I became increasingly disappointed with the D40x’s performance. I look forward to picking it up again!

I love autumn leaves

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Watch on posterous

Sent from my iPad4 Nano

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A Week in Tokyo – Tame Style

I’m just emerging from what has probably been one of the busiest weeks of the year so far. Whilst busy is good for a freelancer, it’s been a little *too* busy at times – but emerging from the other end I can now look back and appreciate it all!

Monday I met with the communications officer at a local charity whose website I’m moving over to WordPress.

Tuesday I attended a meeting about live streaming TEDxYouth Day – training some volunteers in how to handle the tech. Following that was a meeting for 21 Foundation – we finally have the first copies of the DVD of 21:21, our educational documentary, and it’s looking beautiful! From there it was on to create a resume for the Domino’s Pizza job that pays GBP19,000 for a single hour’s work in December – fingers crossed for that.

From there, on to Roppongi for the GEW/ Impact Japan kick-off event. I was taking photos and video for that.

GEW Impact Japan Kick-off event_5070

Wednesday we spent the whole day at InterBEE – Broadcast Equipment Exhibition. Boy was that fun! I got to try on some real heavy duty steadicams (like wearing some kind of robot suit) – just incredible how stable they are.

Whilst there I was interviewed for French national TV by a leading tech journalist regarding the exhibition and the marathon project. We also found the steadicam that I think I can use for the Tokyo Marathon. Watch this space.

Inter BEE_5140

Wednesday night was TEDxTokyo yz Theatre at Time Out Cafe. I was meant to be taking photos there, but my entry level DSLR really showed it’s true colors in the poor light – mainly black! Great night though. Loved the balloons that lit up when moved, and the incredible human beatbox performance.

Breaktime at TEDxTokyo yz Theatre

Thursday morning I headed to the Nike employee store – Nike have very kindly offered to support the Tokyo Marathon project by supplying all of my sports gear! This is very generous of them, and I’m now fully kitted out with some very comfortable and practical running gear – I’ll be talking more about that over on my running site.

Following that it was off to a meeting about next year’s TEDxTokyo event – trying to get as much done in advance this year. Things are starting to fall into place there, exciting stuff!

Then another meeting about the project proposal for a major mobile communications company. That would kick off next year if we can get it through.

Thursday night a Skype test with TEDxSingapore in prep for TEDxYouthDay on Saturday.

Friday was spent providing tech support for TotalFootball (something I do on a daily basis really), then off to Tokyo International School to set up livesteraming gear for TEDxYouthDay, which happened Saturday.

Saturday morning I was back at TIS before heading to Yokohama for the wedding of Lars and Tomoe; Lars was my senpai at university, and they met in Sheffield. It was a pretty interesting experience which I’ll talk about in due course. Very happy for the new family!

Back to TEDxYouth Day to pack up.

Sunday I ran 32KM in 3 hours…

Monday I took 2,500 photos for Rock Challenge Japan.

All in all, it was a hectic week!

TEDxYouth@Tokyo

[[posterous-content:pid___1]]What do a middle school student, world champion juggler, social entrepreneur, Pulitzer Prize winner, car designer, skateboarder, world champion yo-yo artist and a jazz singer have in common? 

They all presented at TEDxYouth@Tokyo!

One of 61 TEDxYouthDay events happening around the world, TEDxYouth@Tokyo, held at Tokyo International School, was organised and run by a team of 11-18 year olds whom together had put together a stunning lineup of speakers and entertainment. 

[[posterous-content:pid___4]]

The core theme – Youth2Youth – was clear from the moment of arrival at reception: anyone looking over-age was asked to present their student ID cards!

As well as almost all presenters being 18 or under, the MCs, stage management team and tech teams were also staffed entirely by young volunteers, many of whom were taking on these roles for the first time. 

[[posterous-content:pid___0]]

Between the event’s three sessions participants could be found rock-climbing, skateboarding, watching other TEDxYouthDays happening around the world on laptops, chilling out in the chill lounge – or taking part in the impromptu rave on the main stage!

iPod touches linked to the TEDxYouth@Tokyo Twitter account were handed out for participants to tweet the proceedings, whilst the backstage livestream camera crew (one of two channels used to live broadcast the event) carried out a number of interviews during break times, capturing the feel of the event from the participant’s perspective. 

To emphasise the global nature of TEDxYouthDay, live Skype video calls were included in the program, with the local team connecting with other TEDxYouthDay events in Singapore, Ipoh (Malaysia) , Hong Kong and Taipei.

[[posterous-content:pid___3]]

Overall, the event was a huge success, with participants s describing it as a fun, inspiring, unforgettable experience.

To see all of the photos from the event (taken by one of our 11-year-old volunteers) view our set on Flickr. Video from the event is also available here (Technical issues mean that audio is missing in some parts!)

Our thanks to the TEDx team for coordinating this global movement – the TEDxYouth@Tokyo rcew looks forward to taking part in future youth-centered events.

 

Posted via email from TEDx Blog

TEDxYouth@Tokyo

What do a middle school student, world champion juggler, social entrepreneur, Pulitzer Prize winner, car designer, skateboarder, world champion yo-yo artist and a jazz singer have in common? 

They all presented at TEDxYouth@Tokyo!

One of 61 TEDxYouthDay events happening around the world, TEDxYouth@Tokyo, held at Tokyo International School, was organised and run by a team of 11-18 year olds whom together had put together a stunning lineup of speakers and entertainment. 

The core theme – Youth2Youth – was clear from the moment of arrival at reception: anyone looking over-age was asked to present their student ID cards!

As well as almost all presenters being 18 or under, the MCs, stage management team and tech teams were also staffed entirely by young volunteers, many of whom were taking on these roles for the first time. 

Between the event’s three sessions participants could be found rock-climbing, skateboarding, watching other TEDxYouthDays happening around the world on laptops, chilling out in the chill lounge – or taking part in the impromptu rave on the main stage!

iPod touches linked to the TEDxYouth@Tokyo Twitter account were handed out for participants to tweet the proceedings, whilst the backstage livestream camera crew (one of two channels used to live broadcast the event) carried out a number of interviews during break times, capturing the feel of the event from the participant’s perspective. 

To emphasise the global nature of TEDxYouthDay, live Skype video calls were included in the program, with the local team connecting with other TEDxYouthDay events in Singapore, Ipoh (Malaysia) , Hong Kong and Taipei.

Overall, the event was a huge success, with participants s describing it as a fun, inspiring, unforgettable experience.

To see all of the photos from the event (taken by one of our 11-year-old volunteers) view our set on Flickr. Video from the event is also available here (Technical issues mean that audio is missing in some parts!)

Our thanks to the TEDx team for coordinating this global movement – the TEDxYouth@Tokyo rcew looks forward to taking part in future youth-centered events.

 

Posted via email from TEDx Blog

£19,000 for one hour’s work – application submitted!

Domino’s Pizza Japan are celebrating their 25th anniversary with an unusual recruitment drive: they’re looking for a single employee to work one hour sometime in December, for which they’ll be paid 2,500,000 (about £19,000).

Naturally, I applied.

What do you think of my resume? I thought it important to show a bit of imagination.

I only had about 90 minutes to create this from scratch today. If I’d had more time I would have added olives.

Autumn Cherry

The cherry tree in front of our balcony is giving us a final show for the year, before shedding its leaves and looking sticky for the winter.

Behind the tree you can see Himonya Park pond, and beyond that on the horizon, the broadcast tower that I think belongs to NTT.

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Launch of TM2011.com

Over the next few months the number of running-related posts I’ll be writing is probably going to increase significantly. I appreciate that there probably aren’t many runners amongst The Daily Mumblers, so have decided to set up a new section of TGW dedicated to running.

www.TM2011.com (or tokyomarathon2011.com) is a bilingual site that will track my preparation for the Tokyo Marathon in February 2011. It’ll also be the main repository for the products of my new project, The Art of Running.

Being bilingual it’s also a study aid for me!

My thanks to www.lifeyou.tv for the logo, and @namyhei for giving the text a once-over.

Here’s a post that I wrote tonight:


The second run in my Art of Running series took place this morning in central Tokyo, and saw me joining the Sunday morning crowd for a section of the Imperial Palace circuit, before branching off towards Aoyama. Creating the eye of The 21km Imperial Duck required pausing the tracking software for a section of the run, then restarting when I reached the right spot. I also found that leaving home with only 60% battery on the iPhone 4 is not a good idea if you have two hours of GPS tracking and music planned. Finished it with 2% battery remaining!

It was really interesting doing the beak as I’ve never been to that part of Tokyo before, was stunned to fund such a big park that I’d never been into until now.

It was also useful to identify further issues I might encounter with the GPS tracking. Runkeeper has a tendency to crash in certain situations, and Google Earth just doesn’t have the resolution I need. I was also using Nike+ on my iPhone 3GS, and Runkeeper running with a second Runkeeper account in my bag (that captures the entire run, without pauses).

Here’s the route in Google Earth

The Art of Running: Meguro Elephant

In a bid to help me get through The Wall(s) encountered during long distance runs, I’ve decided to bring GPSart (otherwise known as Position Art) to the streets of Tokyo.

My first creation is the 18.43km Meguro Elephant. With an average speed of 10.28km/h, it’s one of the faster breeds, yet consumes a staggering low number of calories.

For an interactive map click here.

Clearly the developer of Visual Hub had a lot of experience encoding videos



Visual Hub, sadly no longer available, is one of the best tools not out there for quick and dirty video encoding. The UI has built in messages that demonstrate that the developer was a seasoned video encoder. This is one of my favourites, at the top of the Advanced Settings pane: “Don’t! You’ll screw it all up!” …as you inevitably do if you start messing with them.

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Idea: Japan by Bicycle

One thing I’ve long wanted to do is tour Japan by bicycle. Whilst I’ve hardly left Tokyo since September 2008, I have in previous years traveled a fair bit – working on organic farms, hitchhiking here and there, getting out into local communities.

A couple of  things that stick with me from those times are the scenery (much of Japan is mountainous, with greenery taking over from the concrete that I’m familiar with) and the traditions maintained by local communities. I figured that touring by bicycle could provide for a really rich experience, allowing you to get a true appreciation for the diversity of the Japanese landscape, whilst also allowing you to interact with the locals, dipping in to pockets of traditional culture.

Today I’ve been writing up my part of a proposal that is being put forward to one of the top 5 companies in the country, and the national office of a international organisation for young people. Interest has already been expressed by both parties. This project  would be a part of a much larger project which is currently only in the planning stages.

Still, if it does go ahead (probably in the Spring of 2011) it would be a pretty big deal – and a lot of fun, integrating sports and social media.

This is another of those opportunities that has resulted from the Tokyo Marathon – and from living in Japan’s capital where seemingly anything is possible.

Watch this space.

Running: Tamagawa Ekiden Carnival

Yesterday I ran the final 5km leg of an Ekiden (relay race). Myself and My friends were just two teams amongst hundreds that ran the 23km course along the Tama river. The weather was perfect for running – blue skies, but not too hot.

Looking at my stats on runkeeper, I could see that my personal record for 5km was 21mins 51seconds, set back in May at the Arakawa Ekiden. My goal this time was to beat that – a tough challenge as I nearly died from exhaustion back then.

The first to run for the Quatro Kids was Tom – he had the tough job of running 10km on a very crowded track. Despite the traffic jam at the beginning he was back in 46 minutes – a fantastic start.

Next to run (5km) was Sheffield classmate Phil. He too is pretty damn fast, and was back in 21 minutes. Nami, friend and Japanese teacher (who organised the teams – thank you!) then took the baton for the 3km stretch, before handing it to me – I had the final 5km ahead of me.

Having scrapped the idea of doing a live video I focused on the running, taking off at an unsustainable speed of 1km/4mins. It was only when I’d run a full km and Runkeeper read me my stats that I realised my pace was too fast and that I’d probably collapse if I continued like that.

Having slowed down to an almost-comfortable 4mins15sec per km I started looking for a runner that I could use as a pace-keeper, and soon found one in a Japanese guy in his 40s. Not quite the young female runner I’d hoped for, but he was running at just the right speed; I focused on his shoes and imagined myself as being in his slipstream.

The final kilometer was tough. It seemed my legs hadn’t fully recovered from the running I’d done earlier in the week, and I desperately wanted to slow right down. But regular updates from Runkeeper I knew I’d miss my target time if I did that, so pushed on.

Entering the final 500m, the pain was taken away by the cheering crowds. Crossing the line I was a happy bunny… and looked down to see what time i’d made it in: 21min 55sec – 4 seconds slower than back in May! That made me laugh…

Still, I’ve had my best week running so far this week, covering almost running 50km. Also, 30km of that saw me carrying quite a bit of weight, in the form of 2 x 0.5kg weights strapped to my wrists (need to build up my arm muscles for carrying the camera) and a rucksack containing an iPad and an assortment of clothes.

There’s still a long way to go until I’m ready for the marathon though.

Running is continuing to make me feel a lot more energized generally, which is a good thing as I have so much on my plate at present.

Been talking with *Twinkle* more about long term plans and a project that we can work on together. A decision has been made there… watch this space.

Quatro Kids and Team Atsushe ready to run – 頑張ろう!

Two teams, one race. The 23km Ekiden Carnival, Tamagawa

Sent from my iPad4 Nano

Posted via email from Joseph’s posterous

Doing a bit of discrete sewing

The Jeans Live On. Great nighttime activity. Highly recommended. Sent from my iPad4 Nano

Posted via email from Joseph’s posterous

New blog post on MIJ: Mobile Data Plans in Japan

Mobile in Japan - Getting mobile data in JapanIt’s been a while since I contributed to Mobile in Japan, but I’ve made a comeback with a post that I hope is really useful for people coming to Japan for short-term visits.

I’ve lost count of the number of times that people have asked me how they can get data access whilst here for short visits. Until now I’ve not been able to offer much advice except telling them of a few open WIFI networks I knew about. The thing is, having both an iPhone and a pocket WIFI device means I never have to think about these things.

Whilst writing this article I spoke to all of the major mobile data providers, trying to get an accurate picture of what services they provided, and whether they were available for those without Alien Registration Cards. The results therefore should be pretty accurate – at least for now!

Read the full article over on MobileinJapan.com.

Joseph

That damn bunny runner just won’t disappear

Article in this month’s J-Select magazine.
Sent from my iPad4 Nano

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東京で走る時は必ずウサギの耳を付けてください # tm2011

As seen in this month’s J-select

Sent from my iPad4 Nano

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Dependence upon Ubiquitous Capture

I’m a big fan of GTD’s Ubiquitous Capture – dump everything in your head on paper (or in some kind of text doc or voice note), thus allowing yourself to focus on important stuff – no need to worry about remembering the little bits and bobs, more brain power available for deep thunkful thoughts. You can then later review your ideas and act upon them when in a space more suited to processing. The problem comes though when you forget to record something at the moment of creation. With no habit of recalling recent thoughts to record or act upon it slips through the net.. And you end up in situations like I’m in now – running 20 mins late for a meeting that I’d completely forgotten about having not added it to iCal. I guess total dependence is never a good thing.

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Half Marathon with Weights (almost)

Last night I took the next step with my training for the Tokyo Marathon 2011, by running with weights. If I’m going to carrying a computer during the full marathon I’m going to need to get accustomed to the weight, so last night I wore a rucksack with my iPad, bottle of water and other bits and bobs in. It wasn’t too bad.

I also strapped a 1/2 kilo weight to each wrist as I need to strengthen my arms for carrying some kind of steadycam for my iPhone.

Although the stats show that I ran over 20km, I think that’s not quite right – the GPS went a bit funny so it’s more likely to be about 19km.

I was absolutely shattered by the end of the run. I’d wanted to run 21km, but my body just refused to cooperate.

I don’t feel too bad today – although my shoulders do ache a bit!

Next time I’ll probably try adding more weight, comparable to the actual marathon. I have a spare iBook I can use for that.

Joseph

Was I too early in bringing the plants in for the winter?

Such a beautiful day in Tokyo. Great to have good laundry conditions again too!

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Top 10 Essential iPad Apps

I’m not the kind of person to buy a lot of apps. I don’t browse the app store picking up random titles that look interesting, rather I go in there looking for a particular app that I’m familiar with having used the OSX version, or I’m looking for an app that a friend has recommended. Thankfully I have a few friends who are compulsive buyers, taking their devices to the limit (literally – they can’t install any more apps). In addition to getting tips from them, I follow a few websites that pick up the best there is on offer.

Here then are 13 of the top 10 iPad apps I couldn’t do without:

Evernote

Free

A recent convert to Evernote, I am in love with this personal database app that comes complete with Optical Character Recognition (recognizes text, including handwriting as bad as mine, in any image added to it, making it searchable). Throw anything in there and it auto-syncs with the Evernote server, then to any device you have it installed on (iPhone, iPad, desktop etc). Photos, text, PDFs, text docs, audio – all with you whatever device your on. Whilst the basic service is free, I’ve chosen to upgrade to premium which has a few extra benefits. I’ve also bought a plugin (Voice2Note) that automatically creates a transcript of the first 30 seconds of any audio note I create – great for making notes whilst cycling!

LogMeIn Ignition

$29.99

What I first thought would just be a cool app to demo but that I’d rarely use has turned out to be one of those that I truly value. Basically, it gives you full remote access to any computer you register with the service. I’ve been using it a lot over the past month to remotely control Final Cut Pro (video editing software I have on my 17″ MacBook Pro) whilst out and about, starting the next stage of an export process that takes hours (but is complete by the time I get home). There’s also been times when I’ve needed files that I didn’t have on my iPad, in which case I’ve simply used LogMeIn Ignition to copy them to my dropbox which then syncs them to my iPad (or allows me to send someone else a public link for them to download from).

At $29.99 it’s not cheap, but it’s worth it if you have a home computer but often work when out and about.

Air Display

$9.99

Use your iPad as an additional external display for your Mac. No need for cables as this works using WIFI. Simply launch the app and your Mac will auto-detect it as a new display. Rotate the iPad and it’ll auto adjust to the new orientation. If you already have a second screen attached to your minidisplay port you can now have three screens!

I mostly use this when working away from my desk at a client office etc when I don’t have my usual second screen. Also handy for those situations where you’d like to just pick up your monitor and go show a colleague or family member something – now you can!

One thing to note though is that the refresh rate is not that of a wired monitor, meaning its better for things like Twitter or your mail app, or web pages used for reference than it is for videos.

Dropbox

Free

Great way to quickly share docs across all your devices. Need I say more? If you’re not using it, you should be! Use this link and I’ll get more space added to my plan, and love you even more.

Goodreader

$1.99

At one point this was the #1 paid iPad app – and with good reason.
“Super-robust PDF reader with advanced reading, annotating, markup and highlighting capabilities, excellent file manager, TXT file reader and editor, audio/video player, Safari-like viewer for MS Office and iWorks files.”

What I like most about this is the ability to connect directly to gmail accounts and retrieve any attachments. It’ll also work with dropbox, standard FTP servers and more.

Apple iWork suite (pages, Numbers, Keynote)

$9.99 each

Create, edit and share word, excel and PowerPoint docs. Use the iPad when giving presentations with Keynote by plugging it in to a projector / external display. Doing so will enable you to use the amazing built-in lazer pointer that won’t take anyone’s eyes out.

1Password

$9.99

Ever forgotten a password? You won’t ever again with 1Password. This app is simply awesome. I have a database of hundreds of unique passwords for all the different sites and services I use, but don’t have to remember any. With 1 Password, they’re all stored securely, and synched across my Mac, iPad and iPhone. Couldn’t live without it.

Omnifocus

($39.99)

Powerful GTD-approach pro-task manager. As I wrote in 2008 when talking about the mac version,

If you are having to juggle a number of projects with multiple mini-deadlines, all requiring attention but some more urgent than others (and if you own a Mac), this is for you. It’s highly intelligent, flexible, and helps you get a clear idea of what needs doing when. Data entry is super quick and easy, and there’s iCal integration.

The iPad version looks to be a complete rewrite – and it is beautiful. Love the UI. Love ticking boxes having Got Things Done too.

Not sure I’d recommend it to people who aren’t so busy – there’s a lot of other cheaper / free task managers that may suffice.

Anki

Awesome flexible spaced-repetition flashcard app. – can be used to learn / memorise almost anything. Delighted that the developer has finally released both iPod and iPad versions. Not cheap, but after years of using the software for free on the Mac I’m more than happy to pay. I love the customization options, and the simplicity too, allowing you to focus on your studies. Syncs with iPod/iPhone/Mac

Here’s a quick intro to how you learn with Anki – note that this is the Windows version in the demo, but the functionality in the iPad version is pretty much the same.

Reeder

Reeder

Beautiful, simple RSS reader. Plugs into and syncs with Google reader – also syncs with iPhone app, has quick links to adding to Instapaper, sending via email etc.

Art Studio

$2.99

Simple yet powerful image creation / editing software. Used to create masterpieces such as this

Photogene

$3.99
This is what Photoshop for the iPad should be! Tools for crop/rotate/curves/redeye, all sorts of filters, ability to annotate photos too. Definite must-have.


Twitter (the official app)

Starwalk

$4.99
Awesome app that uses iPads GPS, compass and motion sensor to provide a real-time map of the night sky. Friggin’ awesome!

In the list above I’ve mainly focused upon productivity as that’s where my interests lie. Sure, I have a few games installed, but rarely play them. I also have a few magazine apps installed, but they’re also recreational so don’t get much use.

The combination of this hardware and software has had a significant impact upon my life. I find I’m able to be far more productive, dealing with tasks / requests as they come up rather than adding them to a to-do list for later.

…and also, I feel happier. I think the main reason for this is that the iPad gives me the freedom to work where and when I want. I don’t have to carry my 17″ MBP everywhere, but still have full access to all of my data.

Sometimes I even use it for watching videos of cats.

What are your favorite apps?

As it Happens

Off all the ‘as it happens’ videos / broadcasts I’ve seen up until now, this is definitely the most impressive. Wonderful photography, superb post-production – and they did all this off solar and battery power?!

See more of this kind of stuff at http://camp4collective.com/

As It Happens from renan ozturk on Vimeo.