The Marches

I was on the welsh borders this weekend around the Forest of Dean. It is an absolutely gorgeous part of the world, with wooded vallies rolling like waves into England from the black mountains.

I left my computer alone for the weekend, preferring to enjoy the 14th birthday of my daughter without any distractions from the cyber realm. In fact my daughter is one of the few children who enjoys a reasonably computer free existence. There is one in the house, but she prefers books and the magical realms of literature to the world wide web.

Everything in small doses.

Some Gypsy Video

This is an assortment of video I have been doing over the last few years. Video has been a passion of mine ever since I used it to make a living whilst I was in Thailand.

I was always a bit more focused on the underwater realm rather than the dollar at the time, but have no regrets.

Since then I have made travelogues, received grants to make arts pieces, filmed festivals, band videos and promos for entertainments companies.

Google Earth

Due to the desire to show people where we are going to be on each day of the Plymouth top Banjul rally, I have been taking a closer look at Google earth.

The resolution has improved greatly, with London now at 10cm resolution. I was floating about over the houses of parliament this morning, and took a peak at the top of the London eye.

My girlfriend was almost convinced we were looking at live footage when we zoomed into the Grand Canyon, which has the added feature of terrain mapping. Click on the globe to download a Google Earth file showing where we will be going in the rally.
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Google Earth

Plymouth to Banjul Rally

This cyber gypsy is off gadding about again in the early days of December. I am setting my compass for the desert dunes, leaving a winters London behind and rallying off with the boys and girls from ACE.
Some old buddies from Koh Tao have decided to take part in the Plymouth to Banjul rally. it’s a poor mans Paris to Dakar, with cars costing £100 and the destination being the capital of The Gambia, Banjul. It’s actually a bit further than Dakar, because we are just that little bit more stupid brave.

We hope to be keeping everyone posted along the route by updating our blog at rallyace.com and if we have the facilities we’ll post daily video’s, and perhaps immersive video (QTVR) of our wonderful surroundings.

What will be really great is to see the lads again, it’s been 8 years and it will be marvellous.

Cyber Gypsies Abound

We seem to be festooned with cyber gypsies.

In a British Heart Foundation shop in Streatham, Indra Sinha’s ‘frank account of love, life and travels on the electronic frontier’ found us as we walked past the front window.

I have gotten a third of the way through, but it’s like reading ancient history, and kind of sums up the way electronic communication has changed in the last few years.

I’ll talk more about it when I have finished it, but I get the feeling that it is a kind mirror image to the way I perceive the words ‘cyber gypsy’. For me the internet frees me up to see the wild blue planet earth, not so the vaults within.

But we’ll see. The book is wonderfully written, and draws you into its quite delicious labyrinths.

The Train To Brighton

I know my mood hasn’t been good concerning WiFi hotspots in London, considering our glorious capital can’t get it together to provide connectivity, gratis, for it’s citizens to lol about all chaise longue like, in it’s streets writing blogs like this (ie me).

I mean I can understand why. Imagine the glut of bohemians strewn about attempting to work, it would be pitiful. The sight of me strewn outside St Pauls writing an SEO proposal would sicken any banker I’m sure.

So. To escape from this madness I take myself on the road (or rail) to Brighton, and what do I find. WiFi access, free (for a limited period) from T Mobile on the train.

I’m writing this on the train (which is distracting me from working as it happens).

Viva la revolution.

The world IS my office (well, as well as being a dumping ground for humanities inability to govern it’s own greed that is).

We can share. The greedy and me.

6 Quid

Look, I hate to be so egocentric as to think that London is my virtual office – but it is – so if the powers that be would like to make it free for me to wield my Vaio about town like a cyber ninja I’d be a lot happier.

I have heard that it costs 6 quid to use an antenna, that some red nosed skinflint has attached to a coat hanger in Westminster, and uses the proceeds to pay for women to throw buns at him in some Streatham brothel. That seriously raises the cost of a coffee, and curtails my ability to pay for any confectionary to be thrown at me.

So stop it.

On a lighter note everywhere seems to be getting WiFi rapidly. I think Lhasa is rolling out an 8gig per second pan asian connection for switched on Yak herders.

Bitter. Moi ;0)

Batteries ETC

I have a £50 Battery in my vaio and it is working fine. A SONY original 7200 mah original is £270, so for the change I could go on a week’s holiday to Spain, eat 150 kebabs or afford a few tickets to go see Tottenham Hotspurs play at white hart lane.

Sorted!

I’ll report back if my VAIO fries in hell, which is what SONY would have you believe would happen if you use a non standard battery. I reckon the risk of data loss from not having a working battery as a backup power supply is more worrying.

I have been hearing more and more rumours of WiFi networks in London. The square mile is supposed to be switched on soon, which would expand my office somewhat. Nobody knows who will pay for it, and it does not look as if it will be a free network like in Norwich, but it’s a start.

The question is what we’ll do when we have it. In zoo’s the animals often stay put when the cage doors are open, even alerting the zoo keepers to the fact because they feel insecure, so maybe we will take time to adjust to our new found freedom.

We’ll see.

Sony VAIO

I like my Sony VAIO. It has one of the best screens I have ever seen, and it is quieter than a cat stalking a bug on a rug. However, my battery has gone kaput after only one year and I’m not happy about it.

Not least because if I want to get another, it will cost me £139 for the almost useless standard battery, and £279 for the longer life battery that would count as standard on any other laptop (the screens on these things use so much power they sap the batteries, which is an OK trade for me as I want a good monitor on my laptop).

Originally I thought my laptop, which is a VGN FS215B, had daughter board problem as it didn’t register any battery at all. I posted a note on Sony’s award winning online help, and in a week got a message back saying if, after cleaning the battery terminals it still doesn’t work, I should buy another battery.

It took them a week to chew over THAT.

Great.

I have an old jalopy of a Eurocom that lasted three years without a hiccup before this. It may be true that the screen had the luminance of a muddy pond, and it made more noise than a politician, but it still works and lives to this day as my trusty gypsy back up.

At the first available opportunity I am going to check out Panasonic Toughbook technology. This Cyber Gypsy needs something that I can use in my cluttered old wagon, on the road, in the shower, whilst up mountain peak or in that white water raft.

My Sony is cute, but I think it might be a fireside option.

OK. If I am going to make this a review I had better review the damned thing.

Positives;

Great screen.
Quiet, I used to know my old laptop would not be stolen because I’d hear where it was at 50 miles, not this one.
Quite fast.
Look cute.

Negatives;

Seems like the batteries are useless and SONY are making a mint out of replacing them.
Looks cute, the girlfriend prefers checking her email out on this rather than her DELL.
Doesn’t feel solid, it has that ‘sell them pretty so that when they look worn they’ll come back for another’ quality about it.

If anyone has come looking for a review that includes information on how to overclock the damned thing, remember I’m a Cyber Gypsy, and am more interested in how I can run the thing on solar power.

And i’d like the battery to work.

POSTDATE….

This laptop broke not long after the warrenty date. I have a friend who works at Sony, he has a buddy in the parts department, he said DO NOT BUY SONY VAIO LAPTOPS, now that’s coming from the horses mouth.

What apparently happened to this one is the glue that holds the VGA chip to the mother board came unstuck so the screen stopped working. To buy another motherboard is more than a new laptop – I tried getting a second hand motherboard off of eBay but this didn’t work as there are so many different motherboards for the one model.

So do not buy a Sony Vaio, even at Sony they admit that Sony Vaio Laptops are Shit, they are designed to break shortly after the warrenty runs out – I own a Nissan, they are successful because they are well engineered and they last forever, why Sony has decided to go for the old American model of built in obsolescence I do not know, but as they seem to be making a good load of money they really do not seem to care.

Have I made myself clear, DO NOT BUY A SONY VAIO, of you want a SONY VAIO REVIEW then this is it here, the SONY VAIO REVIEW is that SONY VAIO LAPTOPS are a rip off.

There.

Paris In The Rain

I managed to get most of my daily chores out of the way as the rain pours down outside the Paris flat. I post to a few message boards about SEO and web design issues, and I am trying to get into the rythm of updating this blog daily. So here we are.

My train home is at 14.43 from the Gare De Nord so I want to get some work done before I go. I have an ecommerce store to quote for, which is for an American religious group. I seem to be getting a lot of requests from god fearing folk, which must reflect on my good Kharma so watch this space ;0)

I have also been reading up (Wikipedia etc) on people like the spiral tribe as they came up in conversation with a friend recently.

I worked with one of the founder members (Mark) just before the whole free dance scene kicked off. We worked on a small building site together, only for a short while, but he did make quite an impression because he came across as genuinely lovely.

Mark also seemed to exude an inner confidence that was infectious. I found myself quite jealous of it at the time because I was insecure and not ready to fight the system in the way he did. I spread my wings by travelling the globe for five years, and found my own way of coming to terms with existence later on.

I remember bumping into Mark at a later date when asked for me to donate a flotation tank, which I had bought to set up a business at the time, to one of the spiral tribes indoor events. I said no because I had invested £3000 in it and didn’t want it to be towed off by the police, which in hindsight had probably saved me a few quid, but had I done it it might have led to some great experiences. Having said that I wasn’t really too attracted to the scene chasing free parties through muddy fields, and never really believed that techno would unite us all.

Ecstasy, however, was a revolution in itself, causing people regard each other in an altogether loving way that was so different to the alcohol and whiz fueled punk generation. The kindness it fostered might have been drug fueled, but it changed a generation for the better, and now there is an undercurrent of love that will not go away. Having said that, changing the world comes in larger doses of self awareness. The disillusion caused when the party is over can be as harmful as it was good, so as in all things balance is needed.

I got the feeling that Mark was strong enough to ride the storms. If you get to read this mate (Network23 seem to have a Paris location), let’s meet up for a croissant and a chin wag.

It all is unfolding just as it should.

Right, back to cyber blogs.

I am going to pack up here and head off onto the streets for some 3d contact. The net does have its limitations, and I have done this gypsy’s work for the day.

Paris

It’s deserted here.

The French all go away on holiday for the month of August leaving a skeleton staff in Paris. It’s like some post apocalyptic movie where the streets are ours, tinned goods can be fetched at will from empty supermarkets. I was here only two weeks ago in the blistering heat, when the banks of the Canal St Martin were thick with people. Today we even managed to get into Antoine & Lili’s shop without a fight.

In between trips out I managed to get a little of my redesign done for my website templates store. I am making it a lot more web 2.0, but you’ll see. But all in all I am staying away from my vaio.

So that’s all for now…

Hereford to Paris

Hereford

It’s my last day in Hereford and I have just gotten used to the quiet. It is no longer a roar, but sooths now.

This morning I woke early and popped on top of a hill by the house. A local farmer was collecting what looked like mushrooms. The contrasting light of the morning, the clear air, so different from the London I inhabit right now.

My car (an old Karmann Ghia) wouldn’t start this morning so I had to enrol the locals into getting helping me find some jump leads.

The chap who got me on the road – Gus – happened to have a collection of around twenty vintage tractors in his shed.

As you do of course.

We chatted about tractors for a good while until I felt I needed to be on my way.

Tomorrow it’s off to Paris for the weekend. I stay in a flat just near canal St Martin where I have wireless if I have to work.

But I really would rather not. It’s romance this weekend, but I’ll try and find the time to update this ditty.

The Middle Of Nowhere

Well not quite the middle of nowhere.

I am house sitting in a remote village on the welsh borders. Apparently it was one of the last valleys in the UK to have gotten electricity, but that was a while ago now.

The house I am in was wired up to broadband only last week. There was a connection for a year before that, but the neighbour had it, and he wasn’t sharing.

It is excessively quiet around here. It is so quiet it’s noisy. I am basically being a small scale zoo keeper. Well, I’m looking after two cats that leap cheerfully about like wraiths, looking all cute but killing off the local fauna in large amounts. I see the furry evidence that they leave me as presents.

I have a few deadlines to meet, so am tapping away on my trusty VAIO, still marveling a little that I can move my business with me. As long as I can reach the net, I can be in touch.

I’d like to move to warmer climbs when the frost moves in. that means getting a good client base built up by winter.

Work harder..

Google’s neighbourhood, one big WiFi network!

Last week Google offered to make it’s entire hometown one big WiFi network

Mountain View, California, will then be the biggest community in the US with free WiFi.

About 72,000 people live in Mountain View, an 11 square mile city 35 miles south of San Francisco.

companies like Google and VeriSign are based in Mountainview, so during the day the population can rise above 100,000

Laptop Travel Tips

Laptop Travel Tips
By Elizabeth Lord

Travel laptops require more consideration on top of the usual factors involved in buying a laptop, such as performance, price and warranty. Getting a system that is light is critical. With widescreen models becoming more popular, whilst great for viewing, it just adds weight to the system. If you are not into watching movies or complex graphics, a smaller screen should be fine.

While the price of laptops compared to desktops has shrunk recently, you will still pay slightly more for a laptop. With laptops reasonably difficult to expand or upgrade, it’s a good idea to add more memory or get a bigger hard drive at the time of purchase. Your system should have at least two USB 2.0 ports, as this will be the main way of connecting to external devices.

If you are a frequent traveler and want to use your laptop while flying, there are some other design issues you might want to consider. Widescreen laptops can be a hassle if you are in the coach section, as there is hardly enough room to open the machine. A system with external controls for volume and Wi-Fi can also be good, to avoid annoying other passengers or interfering with the aircrafts navigational system. For really long flights, a second battery is probably the most cost effective way of keeping your system powered up.

As laptops are more likely to be damaged or stolen while on the road, it is a good idea to have a backup plan. Do a regular backup so if something bad does happen, you don’t lose too much data. The easiest way to do this is to buy a laptop with a built in DVD burner. One DVD disc should be more than enough to store your work data. You could also use a CD burner, but you would probably need to carry multiple discs. If you only have a small amount of files you need to backup, a USB flash drive would also do the job.

Laptops that are on the road regularly are more likely to break down. So invest in a good quality carry case to limit any potential damage in transit, and always keep your backups up to date.

Most warranties these days are only twelve months, so if there is a extended warranty available, it may be worth taking up if you are constantly on the road.

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The Glow Lounge

The Glow Lounge, in cavendish parade just near Clapham South tube, is my first port of call to investigate how connected London actually is.

The glow lounge overlooks a busy junction of the south circular road. You have views of Clapham Common, outside seating for those hot days, plug points in case your laptop runs out and a funky traveller style menu, offering anything from a full english breakfast to a Thai curry.

The prices are reasonable with a Thai curry working out at £5.85

The smoothies seem to be popular, and I can imagine the Glow Lounge getting lively in the evening when it turns into a bar.

I met up with Kerry who co owns the bar with her boyfriend, who runs an internet business downstairs.

Kerry explained that the £2.00 charge to use the internet connection is because the diners were being pushed out by too many laptop users. At the weekend they only allow internet use if people are eating. In other words laptops are welcome off peak, but in the evening it is a bar and at the weekends they need to prioritise diners.

Seeing the size of the place this seemed perfectly reasonable, and I’ll be coming back for a full monty breakfast one morning soon.

Cyber Gypsy

Have you ever wondered about the possibilies that new technologies offer us for freedom. Are you the kind of person who thinks that work and life can blend in harmony, rather than compete like oil and water. Do you think that work shouldn’t get in the way of life, that remote work, or remote working can be a tool for change, shading those barriers between our ability to fund our journey whilst making that journey!

We will start in London,the home of the free…..now where is that cappuccino?