« December 2002 | Weblog Main | February 2003 »

January 4, 2003

Happy New Year 2003

We brought in New Year on the boat then went ashore to the old town where there was a fiesta in the square with a mixture of dance music and a live band. This morning we took went out for a sail (well motor as it was calm) out of the harbour and down the coast a bit, then returned and anchored in Cala Taulera a couple of miles from town. Its really pleasant to be in a peaceful anchorage again and the water around the boat is crystal clear.

January 7, 2003

Three Kings Festival

dinghy in mahon
While we were anchored on Sunday, we overheard the weather forecast mention force 7-8 so we decided to move back to the pontoon. We were glad we did when we had force 9 gusts coming through last night. On Sunday evening Mahon celebrated the coming of the three kings festival, and although were not quite sure what it was all about, it was a good party.

January 8, 2003

Fish Bait

Last night we went for dinner in one of our favourite cafes here, Cafe Ars, then onto a bar for some drinks as it was our last night ashore. Hence, today were feeling a little delicate. We fly back to Denmark tomorrow with the afternoon in Barcelona, though itll be a bit hard to leave here.

This mornings discovery was that when we flush the toilet on the boat, dozens of big fish turn up for breakfast. So we each spent some time flushing it while the other stood on deck looking at the fish. Now we know what to use as bait.

January 11, 2003

Airline Chaos

Our flight touched down in Copenhagen last night, 24 hours late, and it was a bit of a shock to see the temperature was -7c and there was a foot of snow on the ground after being used to the mild Mediterranean winter of the last few weeks.

I didn't check my email on Thursday and so I didn't see that Spanair had written to tell us that our flight from Barcelona to Copenhagen had been cancelled. When we arrived in Menorca airport the girl at the check-in desk was busy re-scheduling us onto a series of flights through as many European airports as possible when the phone rang and she was told that our morning flight to Barcelona was cancelled also. Two flights cancelled in one day due to 'technical problems' was beginning to sound a bit like there'd been an air disaster. Initially they wanted us to wait five hours for the afternoon flight and then change numerous times before finally getting to Copenhagen late at night, but after a lot of negotiating they agreed to give us a hotel for the night in Menorca, lunch, dinner, breakfast, cover our taxi costs, and book us onto flights the following day. Obviously, I would miss a day in Denmark, but I would just have to live with that.

So we stayed in the Mirador d'es Port hotel, and we could just see the boat from our window while we took advantage of all the luxuries we'd been without while afloat. The dining room had a panoramic view of the harbour, but dinner itself turned out to be a barely edible deep-fried nightmare that must have been cooked on the floor by one of the cleaners, and we fully expected to get food poisoning from it. The chef was obviously working himself again by the following morning, however, as breakfast was a wonderful, huge buffet that we had to drag ourselves away from to get to the airport in time.

We'd also persuaded Spanair to give us an upgrade to business class for our flights from Barcelona, however, upon getting onto the thirty minute flight from Mahon, we realised that they'd upgraded that instead. So rather than getting the advantages of unlimited food, drink and attractive stewardesses all the way to Copenhagen, we were given a sandwich and a glass of water on our way to Barcelona. When we arrived, I went to the Spanair desk and attempted to explain the mistake through a bulletproof glass window, but unfortunately the girl working there was horribly retarded and failed to understand anything that was going on.

We had six hours to kill in Barcelona before our next flight so we took the coach into the city and had a walk around. It was a few years since I'd last been there and although it's an exciting place, it's still suffering badly from too many tourists and the deformed beggars and con-artists attracted by its rich pickings. As we sat inside a cafe I reached into my pocket to pay the bill. Seeing this from the street outside, a gypsy boy rushed in, asked me for money, then left again when he realised I was Scottish.

By the time we boarded the flight to Denmark it felt like it had been a long day. As we'd been given the seats at the very front of tourist class though, we were able to look through the curtains and watch the wonderful meal being served in business class while the black man behind us snorted and tried desperately to cough something up whilst swearing and attacking the back of our seats with his head.

Copenhagen had apparently been hit by some form of ice-age earlier in the week, with temperatures getting down to -23c. The airport had been closed, people had been stranded, and even now there were thousands of unclaimed suitcases stacked up in the baggage hall. It was all a bit unexpected.

January 13, 2003

Wrecked Again

Mark just emailed me to say he found this on the beach in Guernsey last week.
More pictures.

New Apple Laptops

One of the things I didn't see when I was away was that Apple have released some very sexy new Powerbooks. I've found myself staring in the windows of Apple stores over the last couple of months and drooling a bit over iBooks, but these are way sexier - it could even be enough to get me to switch.

January 15, 2003

Satan's Hangover

I've had a hangover of biblical proportions today as we were out with Jesper and Lisbeth last night. Nina did well in her IT Security exam so we went out for an Indian and a few too many drinks. Here's a video from it that I don't remember taking (3.55Mb).

Here's a good link... bushorchimp.com. Thanks, Colin!

January 16, 2003

Safe Computing and GPS Jamming

Ten reasons why we should all change to secure computing alternatives in 2003...

Your computer at work may contain snoopware courtesy of your boss. Using an anonymizer service or your own proxy server can keep your boss from second-guessing your use of company time.

Windows XP is full of security holes that make life easier for those who would snoop on you. Time to get off the Microsoft bandwagon and switch to Linux, FreeBSD, or Mac OS-X. God knows what horrors the NSA will stick into the next version of Windows.

Phrack has an interesting article on GPS jamming - yet another good reason why we need the European Galileo system rather than relying on the USA for our positioning needs.

January 17, 2003

Royals Shopping

This afternoon we were sitting in Baresso having a coffee when the Queen of Greece, who'd obviously been doing some shopping, walked across the square and got into a waiting car. The surprising thing was that she didn't have any bodyguards or anything with her or - not something the British Queen would be seen doing.

Here's a great site that really makes you wish you'd thought of it - Things my girlfriend and I have argued about.

January 18, 2003

Off to Summer House

I'm just off to the summer house by bike/train/ferry so I may be offline for a few days. Will update things when I return unless I manage to stumble upon some wireless access on the way.

January 21, 2003

Mr Hankey... is that you?

bike
I had a very pleasant long weekend up in the summer house and it also gave me the opportunity to marvel again at the surreal efficiency of the Danish transport system. I had to catch three trains and a ferry, with about four minutes between each connection. Coming from Britain where trains never arrive less than two hours late, and usually fall off the tracks somewhere on the way, I really couldn't see any way that I would make it and had resigned myself to camping down in a country railway station somewhere for the night. But the trains all turned up, even though there were leaves on the tracks, and the journey went to schedule and was unexcitingly smooth. It was great to get out of the city and soon the train was passing through fields and past frozen bays, stopping at places that were really just a few huts in the woods. I war-cycled after I got off the train, but only picked up one wireless connection in the area, which was encrypted.

Nina's father had advised that it might be best if I didn't turn the water on in the summer house as the whole system was drained, so I took a bucket down to the stream and filled it. It was a bit like living in the wilderness. Unfortunately, a couple of days later I discovered that the stream had a sewage outfall running into it. A little sewage never hurt anyone though.

January 22, 2003

No More Graffiti

Having been a Palm user for over three years now, and actively avoiding using paper during that time, I now have serious problems when I'm forced to fill in a form or scrawl something with a pen. So it's very worrying to read that future Palms won't be using Graffiti, their handwriting recognition system which I've adapted over to totally, but will be changing over to using a rival system, Jot, which uses different characters. Suddenly I won't be able to write at all! One of my favourite things about Graffiti is that because all of the alphabet characters are single-stroke, you can write without looking at it (which doesn't work when I try it on paper).

January 23, 2003

Muffs

muffs-t.jpg
Earmuffs still seem to be an essential fashion accessory in Denmark. Whereas in Britain the fashion police will come along and institutionalise anyone caught wearing them on the street, here in Denmark they appear to be so trendy that people insist on wearing them indoors as well, just like designer sunglasses (see photo).

January 24, 2003

Chris in Denmark

Chris has just arrived in Denmark for a long weekend to see Berit so I'm looking forward to getting together with him, catching up on things, and maybe even having a beer or two (must make it to the Carlsberg brewery this time).

January 25, 2003

Piracy Fears

As the media corporations continue to fight against file-sharing networks, Wired is carrying this story telling how Sony is being hit worst of all by being an electronics company as well. Unable to decide which side to take, they're continuing to cripple their products with copyright restrictions while companies like Apple and Creative innovate and begin to take over the future of personal audio players with hard-drive based units. How long will it be before the media companies realise their time has passed?

January 26, 2003

Google News

Google News is quickly becoming one of my favourite news sites. Due to the way that it pulls stories from thousands of news publications around the world within minutes of them being published and posts them without editorial censorship makes it completely different to most of the other news sites out there and means that I end up reading stories that I would normally never see.

It's the middle of Saturday night right now and I just checked it to find this story from a Saudi Arabian newspaper which gives a different view of the Iraqi war that Bush and Blair are trying to start.

January 27, 2003

Out with Chris

Chris and Berit pissed
Chris and I spent most of yesterday in town as I showed him Copenhagen's main sights... the cafes, the best kebab shop, where to get free wireless access. After that we decided it was time for a beer so we went to Alfi's Bar where we were a bit surprised to see cockroaches running up the wall so we decided not to eat there and moved onto somewhere else. Berit and Nina joined us later, by which time we were fairly well lubricated, and we all went out to dinner to celebrate Chris and Berit's 6 month anniversary (congratulations). I don't remember much more apart from having a small accident with the candle and I think someone spilt wine all over the table. Bit of a headache this morning.

January 28, 2003

Ryanair site

I'm flying over to Britain next week and when booking my flight to Glasgow with Ryanair I was filling my address details into the form when I noticed the following on the drop-down list of countries...
...Puerto Rico
Some country
Somewhere else
Spain
Yet another country...
I guess the developers put them there when they were first testing the system and forgot to take them out again.

Click below for my flight details

CPH-STN 05 Feb 03 Flight 402 Dep 1030 Arr 1125
STN-PIK 05 Feb 03 Flight 411 Dep 1345 Arr 1455

January 29, 2003

IT Conference

I was at the Human-Tech Conference today, which aims to bring together IT in the resund region of Denmark and Sweden. Unfortunately, they couldn't decide which language to hold the conference in. It was held in Denmark, the website and the slides were in English, and most of the presentations were in Swedish. To welcome the attendants there was a guy who they'd painted silver to look like a robot, which was particularly sad as he just looked like a street entertainer who'd wandered in by accident. I went along mainly for the presentations on Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, but they didn't even have wireless coverage so I left after lunch and moved to a nearby cafe that was a bit better connected. One of the presentations was by Aptilo, who have put a wireless hotspot into Copenhagen airport which travellers can connect to at an exhorbitant cost. Nina stood up during the question time and grilled them about the type of security they had implemented on it, but neither of the speakers knew. We did - none.

January 30, 2003

Between Iraq and a Hard Place

is it Bin Laden?
Channel 4 have decided to stream the full show of 'Between Iraq and a Hard Place', a satirical take on the Iraqi crisis, from their website due to hundreds of viewer requests.
The Americans see the chance to bring traditional Western values to the Middle East... : democracy (from the people who brought you George W Bush); freedom (from the people who brought you Guantanamo Bay) and economic prosperity (from the people who bought you Enron).

Starring George W Bush, Tony Blair, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleeza Rice, Osama Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and a cast of well, Rory Bremner, flanked by John Bird and John Fortune as Foreign Office mandarins, convinced that this time they have got it right, and that above all the one thing this is not about is oil

For those who may be bandwidth impaired, you can also download the transcript (Word).

January 31, 2003

Moving Out

As Nina is going off to Taiwan to study for five months, she's renting out the flat while she's gone. So today we're in the process of moving out, and we're going to be staying with her parents until I fly out to Britain on Wednesday and she goes to Taipei in a week or two. As I can only get a two month visa for Taiwan and I have some other things to take care of in Europe, I'm not flying out with her, but I plan to go over and visit later. So I'm just about to say goodbye to the adsl connection I've enjoyed having while I've been here and get out of the flat as the new resident has turned up and his things are sitting outside the door.