Thursday, October 18, 2012

WiFi and beyond

I spent yesterday trying to upgrade a home network. After 5+ years, the old "b" router was crashing everytime certain devices connected to it, and the coverage was never what it needed to be. The primary computers are on wired connections, and would also benefit from gigabit ethernet vs. the 100mbits they were getting.

So it began, router and modem into the basement (various benefits to being down there such as a UPS), and gigabit ethernet was alive in seconds - an improvement beyond expectations, and no more crashing with certain connections. But the range seemed more confined than previously. A hopefully easy sollution, using the old router as a wireless access point. The challenge of getting a cable where it is needed quickly became a issue... So first a test, with wires running down halls, a temporary setup brought perfect signal where it is needed, and 2 discoveries: the router still crashed with certain devices, and more importantly, androids approach to picking a stronger signal is broken - tablets and phones hang on to the weak wifi singnal from the basement rather than switch to the strong signal in front of them.

In the end the router came out of the basement, and all seems well. Lessons learned: watch your bottlenecks, lay cables wherever you can, and while technology is great - think of your weakest link.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Hustling Roma


Just about wheels up in Rome. After ~3 days here, I am struck by the hustle of people living here. In the midst of an economic crisis, I encountered plenty of Romans taking pride in their work, and plotting how to get to a better place.

The cab driver on the way to the airport told us of the pain of growing up in the boom, and now be unable to maintain the standards he is used to. In March he plans to move to Canada for a job in the oil industry.

The waiter at dinner carefully guided all the guests through the menu, and seemed genuinely concerned everyone enjoy fine Roman food.

The examples go on, and it is this which seems to give hope for improvements to come. Until then, fingers crossed this country manages to halt its perpetual decline.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

128k feet

Just watched the stratos jump; an incredible feat!

Walking through Rome today, there were several moments of this exact thought - what incredible things can be achieved through focused and determined effort. With the 2000 year old buildings mirroring the record of the day, sieze the challenges ahead and accomplish something amazing!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Rome

Flew to Rome yesterday for a friends' wedding, and am sticking around a bit to explore the city. I've been here twice before, and neither trip left me craving to come back. As we walked around today, the thought I settled on was that this city has been in a state of decline for 2000 years. The ancient ruins stick up at scattered street corners, the modern relics of a metropolis dot the landscape (just try and get from the terminal to the train at FCO).

That is not to say that Rome is an unenjoyable city. The food is marvelous, the history is remarkable, and the engineering is astounding.

We had the unique opportunity to tour St. Peter's Basilica with a priest studying here from Kalamazoo. The church can only be described as cavernous. Writing and statues grow in size toward the ceiling to perfectly counter-balance depth of field, meaning that everything appears to be the same size upon entry. The symbology of every item is deep, and designed to reinforce thousands of years of Catholic tradition. Seeing it with the guidance of an expert made itall the more remarkable.

Our meals have been dotted around the city, more on those soon. For the time being, here's my foursquare list of sights on the agenda: https://foursquare.com/smikolay/list/rome

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Berlin - wonderful as always, and improved by Foursquare?

After 6 nights in Croatia, Berlin was on the schedule for 2. Shortly before heading out, I had seen Fred Wilson's post on Foursquare lists, and how the can serve as a personal guidebook of sorts - so I figured I'd give Foursquare another shot and see what comes of it.

Upon arriving in Berlin, I checked in to the Westin and scanned for lists to serve as my guide. While a few popped up, they seemed to be a bit more the generic sightseeing spots (with 70+ places to visit), rather than a discovery of personal tips, and sadly none of my connections had created any lists.

I scanned through the places near me, and found a couple restaurants I thought could be worth checking out, and decided that if no one had done the work for me, I was going to do it myself.

First on the agenda: Lekkerbek. According to Foursquare, a manageable walk from the hotel - however upon asking at the reception which way I should go, I received a puzzled look. First warning ignored - I decide to pull out google maps and figure it out. Sure enough, Lekkerbek registers, but at a very different address from the one in Foursquare.

At this point, I am supposed to head in opposite directions - and I give up my journey of discovery.

Instead, I have begun two lists of my own:

- Berlin
- Munich

I hope to grow them slowly and carefully, adding the spots that make a place truly special or just a bit easier to travel through, with a goal of 5 - 8 places for each list. Feedback welcome...

In the end, some true locals took me along to Comedyclub Kookaburra for a great night of laughs, and I got my fill of unique places through a good old bit of real life interaction.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

MySMS first experiences

I've been playing with MySMS on android for the last week or so.  In short, it replaces the standard text messaging app and then offers two distinct benefits:


- If the people you are texting have the app, messages are routed through their servers without charge (like what apple does between iPhones)

- If you have multiple devices it syncs the text messages, meaning you can see messages on your computer or tablet and don't need your phone in hand (if you have an android you can also send texts from the other devices)

In practice so far the syncing has worked great. A couple seconds after hearing the beep from my phone, I can also see the message on my tablet. Call me lazy but this is nice as I'm usually near one of the two - not both. As with many things of this nature, the other key benefit depends on other people also using the app - I have yet to find anyone, and can't comment on how it works.

My main gripe has been that the notification on the phone of a new message doesn't always appear. So I've missed one or two texts. Hopefully, this is merely a bug and will be fixed shortly.

Finally, I'm curious to see how they build out their "connectors" offering. This is meant to allow you to send text messages through other providers, and could be a neat money saving feature depending if you travel.

For the time being, I'll leave it installed to wait and see if I start crossing paths with other users, and what else they do with the development.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Croatia

Landing in Split, the heat was immediate and the breeze was non-existant. In the market and the castle it felt like everything was moving in slow motion from the heat. A morning sufficed to get a feel for the place, and by early afternoon we were on the ferry to Korcula - three hours away.

The old town seemed straight out of the middle ages. With a layout like the veins of a leaf, every turn leaves you wondering what comes after the bend ahead. The beaches are mainly stone, but secluded and with great water. A boat rental gets you out to the smaller island and near private coves. Beware of the sea urchin when you're in the water - however they do make a tasty snack.

A few shots from the trip:


Top tips for a visit to Korkula:
- Fish and Fun for a boat excursion
- Stay in an old town apartment instead of hotel
- Be prepared for rocky beached
- Check the ferry times (Dubrovnik maybe more convenient than Split)