After six fantastic months on the road I’m now officially back in my childhood bedroom in Los Angeles, California. And as usual, I’ve got weeks of blogging to catch up on.
So while I work on writing, unpacking, programming, reformatting my laptop, researching cellphone contracts, refining my Fuze’s UC scripts, signing up at a gym*, resyncing my backups, starting my taxes, enrolling in a Chinese language course at Santa Monica College (I told you I’d study Chinese!!), and setting up a number of techie conveniences I couldn’t do remotely**, please entertain yourselves with the following video… 🙂
While traveling through Egypt last year, I mentioned (this post) how absolutely insane (*ahem*…nonexistent?) the driving rules seemed to be. The first time I visited China I was surprised by the chaotic mad-dash that characterized virtually every street crossing – but what I’ve since learned is that, as crazy and dangerous as they may be, China’s roads are nothing in comparison to the pandemonium of Cairo’s.
You can imagine my disappointment when my handheld camera – the only one capable of taking video – had broken. I only managed one clip of the vehicular bedlam, and felt that it didn’t even come close to representing the peak of what I’d seen.
Still, as a clip of a so-called “crosswalk,” it’s pretty damn funny 🙂
Man, have I just been in Asia too long?? In comparison to Japan, Korea, and China, I suddenly feel like everyone is a walking behemoth of ripped muscularity! I’ve gone from one of the big guys to a weak little shrimp, all in the span of a 12-hour flight. It’s gonna take some HARD work to get back to where I like to be… 😮
**Little by little I’m figuring out more efficient ways to achieve my technological goals while living abroad. Overcoming the ridiculous Great Firewall of China, for instance, was a major pain – sometimes I could simply proxy my way through, but others (i.e. in the case of streaming video) the only option I found was to remotely login to a client PC located outside of the country and access from there. The problem was that doing so meant I had to leave a PC constantly powered on at home (running up my dad’s electric bill)…or call and have someone physically switch it on whenever I needed to use it.
That is until I remembered a BIOS setting I’d seen years ago but completely forgotten about: Wake-On-Lan! This nifty feature keeps only the network card in low-power mode, listening for a “magic packet” that tells it to boot up the rest of the PC. I can now power my main server on from my cellphone anywhere in the world! I just had to be here to do a first-time configuration of the BIOS and routers.
Other great discoveries:
• Vonage has released an alpha version of VonageTalk, a software client that lets me use my VOIP phone from a PC (like Skype) without having to carry around a physical SIP device (or buy prepaid SkypeOut minutes).
• SyncBackSE is perhaps the best backup utility I’ve ever seen. Because most backup softwares I’ve played with opt for the typical “user friendly but functionally crippled” paradigm, I’ve pretty much resorted to performing all my backups manually – using a recursive DIFF application before just copying the files by hand (keeping multiple versions where necessary). But this thing is POWERFUL, providing detailed feedback dialogs, versioning, variables, and a great interface. Plus it permits backups over FTP. It took me the better part of a day to get all my scripts written, but I’ve now got it pretty much automating what I was previously doing by hand. What a time-saver.
• One of the pieces of software I’d setup on my previous cellphone was an anti-theft utility that supposedly aids in retrieving your device if lost or stolen. But we all saw how useful that was…when my phone actually DID get stolen in Osaka early last summer. Well, motivated by the loss, I’ve pinpointed the failures and come up with a better solution: By cooking RemoteTracker right into the ROM, even a Hard Reset won’t clear it out of the device’s memory. And unlike the previous software I’d been using, in the absence of a GPS lock RemoteTracker will actually use cell tower triangulation to position the phone and send both an SMS and EMail (if data access is available) with its position, a log of all incoming and outgoing calls, the address book, and other useful information. While I was at it, I went ahead and flashed a custom boot screen onto the ROM as well – meaning that every time the phone is turned on (even after a hard reset), the first thing a user will see is my name and contact information. Should make it tougher to sell second-hand 🙂