Politics, open government, and safe streets. And the constant incursion of cycling.

Month: October 2010 Page 2 of 3

“Free Public Wifi”

Heard a similar story on the radio this weekend, and found it such a lightbulb moment that I thought it was worth passing along:

If you travel a fair bit, as I do, you’ve noticed at almost every airport that there’s an “ad hoc” (i.e., computer-to-computer rather than computer-to-WiFi) option called “Free Public WiFi.” It seems to be everywhere. I’ve never connected to it, because I know enough not to connect to an ad hoc offering, but I was always amazed at the fact that I see it in pretty much every airport I’ve been to. I had wondered if it was a honeypot scam for a while, but I couldn’t believe that scammers would be able to set up such honeypots in so many airports worldwide and no one would catch them and take it down. So how could there be such “Free Public WiFi” (which obviously was not what it claimed to be) in so many places?

The answer? Well, it’s all Microsoft’s fault.

Read on for the details.

Bermuda In Photos

(Testing out new gallery approaches. Let me know if this doesn’t work for you.)

Hmm.  Still seems best to just link.  Gets you full screen option, captions, etc.

Still Looking For Taiwan Travel Tips

As I mentioned, I’m heading off on a rather unplanned trip to Taiwan next week, to check it out as a cycling destination. I suppose the unplanned modifier is really unnecessary in my case – the only trip I’ve *really* planned for in the past few years was to hike Machu Picchu, and that was so derailed by the birth of my nephew that we ended up in Prague, instead (did I just blame a small child for my poor judgement? Yes. Yes I did. It’s not like he can argue with me.). In any event, I’ve done what I do for any trip – I bought another Lonely Planet guide, and have started surfing the web.  I feel like I’m coming up a little short.

On one hand, the web’s already been good to me – Taiwan resident Michael Turton (who found me, out of the blue) has quite graciously helped me assess my itinerary, and the author of Taiwan in Cycles has solicited his readers to make sure I “get to see what [I] really should be seeing.”

On the other, well, that language barrier is significant.  There’s a *ton* of Taiwan cycling info out there – and it’s all in Mandarin.  Believe me, I’m doing my best to get the basics down before I arrive.  But I couldn’t possibly gather up enough in time to sort out a trip with it.

There are some decent English-language resources – like the Tourism Bureau’s “Let’s Go Cycling in Taiwan” site.  It describes cyclo-tourism routes (with Google maps – a serious plus), gives contact information for local resources, and appears to hit the high points.  But I don’t see the sort of individual feedback that I think really adds value.   For the folks looking for racing in Taiwan, Craig Johns’ Taiwan Racing seems to be the place to go.

There are plenty of English-language blogs to mine for info.  Swanky Frankie’s journey (complete with daily music tracks!), the Hungry Cyclist’s search for the perfect meal, and sites with a wider focus that briefly turn to Taiwan (yet produce useful stuff like telling you about “Ni you pijiu ma? You pronounce it: ni yo pee jyo ma? It means ‘do you sell beer?’.”).

But with all that, I’ve yet to discover a good site centralizing the basics – where, how, and how much.  Which is fine enough for me – things are tastier when I have to work for them, instead of picking them off a platter.  Can’t say that I’d turn down an assist, though.

Then again, sometimes you don’t need words at all.  Check out Ewa Kamila‘s video of her solo tour across Taiwan (including the brief unpleasantry  at 1:30):

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Weekend Music: Speakers Matter Edition

If you even occasionally listen to music via your computer, it ought to have a subwoofer.

Yolanda Be Cool & DCUP – We No Speak Americano Mashup

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DJ Le Clown “La Woomboomboomba”

The Kleptones – Jump You Fucker [Van Halen vs. Cee-Lo Green]

“I have no enemies”

Foreign Policy posts the last public statement made by Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波) – today’s Nobel Peace Prize winner – before his sentencing in 2009.  It’s worth reading in its entirety, but here’s a lesson for all of us:

Hatred can rot away at a person’s intelligence and conscience. Enemy mentality will poison the spirit of a nation, incite cruel mortal struggles, destroy a society’s tolerance and humanity, and hinder a nation’s progress toward freedom and democracy. That is why I hope to be able to transcend my personal experiences as I look upon our nation’s development and social change, to counter the regime’s hostility with utmost goodwill, and to dispel hatred with love.

Travel Bits (Bite-sized!)

I don’t like checking luggage.  At all.  And I don’t see why 90% of the people that do it, do it.  No need to check a thing, with a bit of planning, willingness to absorb astronomical hotel laundry charges (or – my usual choice – do your own damn laundry), and purchase of quality clothes in the the first place.  As my kitchen-sink packing friends can attest, I’m quite proud of multiple-continent-multiple-week trips accomplished with a laptop backpack and a medium duffel.  So, all that out of the way, these guys are nuts:

In what is potentially the most minimal “technomadic” experiment ever, Rolf Potts (author of one of my favorite travel/lifestyle books Vagabonding) has set out on 6-week, 12-country, round-the-world trip without a single piece of luggage.

That’s a bit of a promotional gimmick, but this guy appears to be serious:

How to take as much as you like in your hand luggage from Matador Network

He’s also a great illustration of the tragedy of the commons – his carry-on antics squeeze out  folks who would just like to put their bags in the overhead.  On the other hand, if you’re flying Ryan Air, you’re just asking for this kind of company.


Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how much you pack, but what you pack:

The Immigration Officer swiped my passport, glanced at his computer screen and almost immediately stamped me back into the country. But just before I started to walk away he asked, “So you went to Afghanistan and Pakistan. How was it?” The only reply that I could muster up was a quiet, “Very interesting.”

He then called the next person in line and I turned away, relieved beyond belief at how well that had gone. Of course, that relief lasted a mere six seconds, right until the moment when a Customs Officer approached and asked me to step over to one of the inspection tables.

The following hour and a half of my life is a period of time that I will never forget and truthfully, never really want to endure ever again.

It’s a funny read.  If you’re into black humor.


Speaking of jokes, everyone hates the TSA.  Everyone.


A long long time ago, I used to be a WorldMate user on my Palm Treo.  At some point I decided it wasn’t worth upgrading, and stopped using it.  I just gave it another look, in Android version, and wow.  Good stuff.  Recommended.

About Those Retrofit Parking Meter Bike Racks . . .

Watch this.  And then double check your city welds theirs before you ever lock your bike to one of those again.

Midweek Makeover: Cover Canon Edition

This is a Charlottesville-based cover band – Love Canon – at the last Clarendon Day.   Loved ’em – 80s glam bluegrassed covers.  They were stuck with a mid-afternoon segment, so the crowd was thin, but I bet they could get Iota bouncing on a Saturday night.

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A Brief Note on Language

xkcd delivers, once again:

Heading to Taiwan

Taipei, Taiwan

So it turns out that I’m going to Taiwan next week, courtesy of the Taiwan Tourism Bureau (TTB).  I’ll be checking out the cycling along the east coast of Taiwan (primarily in Taitung and Hualien) and in Taipei.  The agenda is packed, but I hope to push out regular updates while I’m there, and then produce some more thoughtful pieces after I return.  Free time will be at a premium, but if you’ve been (or are thinking about going) and have any suggestions for must-sees in the areas I’ll be in, please let me know.  One universal response I’ve already gotten is Taroko Gorge, which I’m pleased to say I’ll be visiting.

I’m particularly excited to be coming at this trip from a cycling-specific perspective.  While my personal travel has come to more frequently involve cycling (riding the Koppenberg in Belgium, mountain biking in Australia, or hitting the road in Nova Scotia), I’ve never made an overseas trip for the primary purpose of riding.  It’s something that I’ve been thinking about (one day, to the Giro!), so I’m really quite excited to be doing this, and hope that – afterwards – I can help others figure out what’s involved in doing this themselves.

As you might already know, I quite enjoy writing about travel and all of its bits and pieces.  From the need to move, the means of getting there, and the destinations themselves.  Sometimes you can do it with just a photo.  Other times, many words are required.  And then there’s always music.  If I do this right, I’m sure Taiwan will give me all three.

Finally, I want to note that this only happening because of Richard Masoner, who was kind enough to connect me with the folks at the TTB.  He will be hosting much of the content that results from this trip at Cyclelicio.us.  If you’re into cycling, you’re already reading Cyclelicio.us.  And if you’re not, give it a try.  My larger travel pieces will be here (along with everything else . . . eventually), but the cycling-related stuff will show up at Cyclelicio.us first.  I’ll soon be posting more about the trip itself, but I thought this would be a good way to kick things off.

Photo by Alex Lin.

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