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I'm starting to play around with Python web frameworks. It's chaos for a newcomer. If any of you have experience and wouldn't mind advising, let me know.
mattbell: (Default)
I heard some very good things about the North Fork Vipassana retreat center last weekend.  (At least according to the guy I talked to, this particular one is excellent and not cultish.)  I'm hesitant to commit a full 10 days to something like this without really knowing what I'm getting into.

If any of you have done this sort of thing, I'd love to chat with you more about what to expect. 
mattbell: (Default)
What do you use for working with google calendar on the iphone?  There's no app from google and the web interface via safari on the phone is horrendous.  I see a couple of third party apps that claim to do it, but I'm curious to hear from someone who is actually using one.

That was easy.
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I want to make the last part of my trip more people-focused, as the typical sightseeing activities don't impress me that much anymore.  "Oh look, you have a medieval castle and a 100m high cathedral in your old town, that's nice.  Yawn."  I have been scheduling *atypical* sightseeing activities, which mainly consist of extremely impressive sights or ways of quickly digging in deeper into a country's culture.

I have a 3-week unlimited railpass and rough plans to hit up Berlin, Amsterdam, and much of Scandinavia, but the train service in Western Europe is so good that I can basically get as far south as Spain in an overnight train from northern Europe.  So basically things are very flexible and I can quickly show up almost anywhere for almost zero incremental cost.

i am curious if any  of you can hook me up with the following:

- Any physicists at CERN who might be able to show me around the LHC. 
- Anyone in the art/tech scenes in Vienna, Berlin, or Amsterdam.
- People working in alternative energy, energy efficiency tech, or other related fields in Western Europe. 
- BASE jumpers in Switzerland or Norrway
- People you know who live in Western Europe that I would hit it off really well with, either locals or expatriates.
- Advice on the most impressive sights you've seen in Europe..  (I already have seen a lot in prior trips, but hey, if there's something that blew your mind, let me know what it was)

mattbell: (Default)
My college humanities courses tended to avoid the canon of dead white people at all costs, instead focusing on alternative voices, indigenous cultures, oppressed peoples and the like. Some of it was very interesting, some of it wasn't. However, after a visit to the stunning Athens Archaeological museum, which showed me firsthand the achievement's of Athens' Golden Age, I want to learn more about the intellectual culture that spawned the world's first democracy, a rich theatrical tradition, and numerous other achievements. To those of you who sought out the traditional classics, I ask what you would recommend, keeping in mind that I'm on the road so online material is preferred. I assume it's all well out of copyright, even the translations.
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I'm currently finalizing my travel plans for Eastern Europe.  I'm planning on hitting Hungary and the Czech Republic, but I'm also looking at the Ukraine, Belarus, Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia.  Any recommendations, good or bad?
mattbell: (Default)
A friend pointed out that I should see if I can meet people in various alternative communities during my travels.  This sounds brilliant -- I'd like to get as deep an impression of the places I visit as possible given my limited time, and while it's awesome to look at ruins and other historical goodies or get the pulse of a city by walking its streets, I'd love to connect with locals who have similar interests.

There are a lot of different subcultures out there, but I'd essentially be looking for ones that fit in well with my own passions... so therefore makers, futurists, technology geeks, tech entrepreneurs, burningman-types, people who practice open relationships, artists (especially artists who like to make use of interactivity and electronic media), and other intellectuals of various sorts would all be interesting to find.

I imagine that these groups are most likely present in larger, modern culturally diverse cities that are well-connected to the rest of the world (eg Singapore, Bangkok, Mumbai, Tel Aviv, Dubai, most major European cities) but chances are there are enclaves in smaller cities too.

I have a potential tour of CERN lined up, and I already know a bit about some avant-garde artists and robotics researchers in Vienna. 

However, I'd love more info, so if you all have contacts or know of any communities in cities I'm visiting (or will be near), let me know. 

Here's a list of places I'm going.  It's slightly out of date (I've dropped Bali and rearranged some things) but mostly still relevant.

mattbell: (Default)
I have recently become spoiled by having the world's knowledge in my pocket.  It's a part of how I move through the world now.  However, when I travel I'm going to be visiting a vast range of different countries with (presumably) a wide range of different phone and data systems.  Can I (relatively inexpensively) get something that will let me use mobile networks worldwide without signing up for country contracts?   I'm guessing the world isn't there yet.

Basically, I'd be looking for an electronic device that (or a pair of devices that collectively) can do:
- GPS and a full world street map locally stored
- Wi-fi so I can use it at internet cafes. 
- Wi-fi+skype+earbuds = worldphone!  This is a cheap way of getting much of the functionality and convenience of a cellphone.
- A USB port.  At some point my camera will fill up with photos, and I'd like to be able to upload them somewhere far away and safe.  I'd prefer that over buying a pile of 1gig USB drives and and mailing one home every couple of weeks.
- A keyboard and screen that are usable for email (4-6 inches wide)
- A total size smaller than almost all laptops.  I do NOT want to lug a full laptop around.
- Awesome long battery life. 
- let me say up to date on lj.  I remember that after being off for a week, it took me 3 hours just to skim everything.

Does it exist? 

Alternatively, am I just spoiled?

Back in 1998 when I ran around Europe at the end of high school, I had travel books and maps as my guides, and I visited an internet cafe every three or four days to email friends and family.  I remember wasting a lot of time getting lost, checking out less-than-optimal tourist sites, and handling logistics over payphones with people waiting in line behind me.  If I can make some of that go away, I'd be happy.


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February 2011

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