Shangri La

I’ve spent a few days at the Shangri La in Pokhara during my 2 stays there.

The first stay went most excellent, though there were a couple hiccups. First the rooms ac didn’t work, and for a hotel at this price point in Nepal it should. After an hour or so I switched rooms. Both rooms were on the second floor, and seemed pretty fresh (nothing broken, rusty, old, dusty, etc).

There is a full bathroom with bath tub, toilet, sink, and shower. Even a phone.

The pool area is small but very relaxing, and has lots of different atmospheres to sit and relax in.

The bed was comfortable, and tv got all the channels. However a big problem at this property is internet. There is a charge of $20 per day, and even for that price it is very very slow (less than 1mbit download). I found my 3g connection to be much faster.

I ended up payin $100 a night with free breakfest. At the end of my first stay, I decided I wanted to check out at around 3pm on the 3rd day, and they allowed me to do this without any penalty, in fact they seemed to care less.

another problem with a different room than the one where the ac didn’t weork was that the toilet ran the entire time. I have a feeling this isn’t the norm here though.

Food was pretty good. Of all the meals I had they all were tasty and well presented. I especially recommend the chicken momo, its really some of the best I’ve ever had.

ibooks and ipad

I’ve had a chance now to read about a dozen books on the ipad, and I’ve noticed a few large problems:

1) battery life. For a tablet as full featured and powrful as it is, it gets great battery life. However when used as a book, the approximately 10 hour battery seems to drain quickly. It would be a lot better if it lasted days. I have a hard time keeping it charged all the time. Also it doesn’t seem to charge quickly.

2) formatting. Why u can change from portrate to landscape mode, there are not many other layout options. For example I would like to see a landscapr option like stanza’s, and I also would like to be able to adjust the margins and the spacing between lines. there should be some ability to adjust the layout.

3) pdfs. Not sure what’s going on with the pdf feature, but not beiong able to natively view pdfs is a major pain. I use calibre to conert them but often this isn’t very accurate.

4) glare/brightness. The glare off the screen is horrible, any light source seems to annoyingly reflect. Reading in the sun is nearly impossible.

ncel doesnt work well in mountains, only NTel

And of course where I was for a few days, there was only NTel and sprint doesn’t have any arrangements with them.

I also tried making and emergency call in SOS mode (as it was on an unsupported carrier), and it did not go through. So don’t rely on being able to place an emergency call even if your sim isn’t working.

iphone

My phone was missing this morning when I woke up. The guide insisted that it was someone at the local house at the farm we were staying at, but in the end it was someone at the jeep stop vilage. They had obviously used it, and potentially even charged it. But in the end they blamed it on one of the kids and returned it, saying I’d left it in my bed and the kid had found it.

The guides initial response to it being gone was well file a police report and have your company replace it in America. Once I explained this wasn’t possible, the phone turned up. Then the response from the guide was well, I don’t think they knew how to use it that’s why they returned it.

So even in a country like Nepal where stealing is not part of the culture, crimes of opportunity do frequently take place, and as friendly as nepalese people may act, and as good of people as they usually are, they still see commodities from the western world (phones, cameras, laptops, etc) as impossible to obtain, and extremely rare, thus very valueable.

Yeti äirlines

Welcome. Today our flight level will be 3500 feet, duration 20 minutes.

Yeti is an interesting airline.

We are flying in a Jetstream 41. The inside is actually quite nice, with recently refurbished seats, and even what feels like air conditioning (though it doesn’t work well on the ground).

Though above the mountains, we are seeming very low, when I look out the window I almost feel as though I’m atop a very tall building (usually on a large jet, the ground doesn’t even seem real as its soo distant).

To be perfectly honest though, this experience is as close to flying private as I’ve ever received. Security took less than 1 minute. No line. My liquids were not a problem. I wasn’t asked to remove shoes, liquids, laptops, nor my belt. Just inside security I was able to purchase a cheap can of cold beer.

When it was time to board, a wonderfully helpful young woman came over and got me and told me to follow her to the plane (no English announcements).

After a 30 second bus ride, everyone quickly boarded. The plane is less than half full, leaving plenty of room for large carryons. There are 2 flight attendants, whom even though turbulence was very rough, still managed to offer every passenger water during the rough flight (I can’t believe she was able to stand at all none the less pour little cups or water). Prior to takeoff we were given some sweets, cotton balls for the ears.
I was never asked to shut off my phone, and it works lovely at 3000 feet.

The flight was around a halr hour long, and cost around $80. I bought the ticket around an hour and a half before departure.

Comparing OS X Desktop Blog Editors (for WordPress)

Using a cell connection has a few disadvantages, such as latency. Even when I have nice solid 3G coverage, doing things like organizing a blog become difficult. For email I use entourage, which solves this problem completely, but currently i’m editing WordPress via http, and thats just a pain sometimes.

Here’s my quick 5 minute review of a couple of the blog editors out there:

Ecto

  • Doesn’t show sub-categories properly. Thus its no good for me.
  • Was able to easily add my blog.

 

MarsEdit 

  • Easily added my blog.
  • Doesn’t support sub-categories, thus no good.
Blogo
  • Able to easily add blog.
  • Doesn’t support sub-categories.
All in all I tried 3, i’m going to try paperless as well, but at this point i’m pretty unhopefull about anything supporting sub-categories (which is an important thing to me).

 

 

Going to do some encrypting

So I was doing some thinking the other day and decided that I leave too much stuff unencrypted, especially with the efficiency of light encryption and the power of an average machine these days.

 

I’m going to start with the machines that I use for my media. The primary focus here is going to be 2 things:

1) Provide backups.

2) keep things secure from average snooper.

 

For backups, i’ll be pushing my entire fileserver offsite using rsync. Both ends will have encrypted disks, and the transmission itself will also be encrypted.

For the first machine, a collocated machine with a 1TB HDD, i’ll be using geli + mdconfig (It’s a FreeBSD based machine). I’m going to create a 900GB crypt file, and the mount that with geli.

The goal here is not to provide bullet proof encryption that the government can’t break, or anything of that nature, but rather just to keep files encrypted as to prevent the casual snooper from being able to make any sense of it.

Sprint comes through wonderfully (and finally)

So after arguing with sprint for months about getting the international unlimited blackberry data plan re-added to my account they finally have. They also managed to get the thousands of dollars in international data roaming I wasn’t suppose to be charged for credited back.

I swear one of the primary ways they make money is all these little billing glitches that end up costing people a few (to a few thousand) a month. Then to get them fixed its a nightmare. It took me well over 20 calls, and a good 3 or 4 hours altogether on the phone repeating my story over and over again.

Horrible customer service, is one of the many reasons that I would not be with sprint if it were not for the amazing international data plan that i’m grandfathered into.

Right now i’m getting 100-150KB/sec while in the middle of nepal, which is at least twice as fast as the hotels internet is.