Archive for March, 2008

Southeast Asia Trip Pix and Videos

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Southeast Asia, 01/08

1. My album of pix and vids
2. Lawrence’s Cambodia pix
3. Lawrence’s Laos pix

So the trip has come and gone, I’ve been back over a month now, and as you can see, no blogging was done while there.

Travel is hard work (at least the way I do it). All planning is done on-the-fly, which consumes most spare moments. Only stayed in “rustic” places, so no in-room internet (or any electricity at all sometimes). And most of all, it’s great to be unplugged and immersed into the local thing rather than a computer screen.

But plenty of pictures and some quick videos were taken. My camera broke upon entering Cambodia, but luckily, Lawrence, who is a much better photographer w/ way better equipment, filled in and his photos are here too.

So enjoy:
1. My album of pix and vids
2. Lawrence’s Cambodia pix
3. Lawrence’s Laos pix

Be your own mobile Wi-fi hotspot

Take your 3G Windows Mobile phone (AT&T 8525 or Tilt, Sprint Mogul), and download WMWifRouter. When you launch it, it turns on the phone’s wi-fi and creates an access point called “WMWifiRouter”, backhaul fed by the phone’s 3G connection. This SSID is now viewable by ANY wi-fi device near it.

The practicality of this is huge:

– Stay at any hotel (where there’s 3G coverage), no more need to find one that offers pricey wi-fi or wired in-room coverage.
– Share the connection with a few devices.
– Turn your car into a hotspot. On long drives, let everyone be connected. No need to rent Avis’ Autonet product.
– Simplest connectivity ever! No need to even deal w/ pairing and setting up your tethered laptop via bluetooth. Keep bluetooth off and just use wi-fi on both devices.
– Especially great for devices that don’t have bluetooth data profiles– for iPhones today that are only EDGE, use this to 3G the iPhone’s connectivity (for supergeeks who can afford to carry 2 hi-end phones).

It runs through the phone’s battery quick, so having a power cord handy is a good idea.

My Scooter Tow Woe

It is with shock, regret, and confused frustration that I report: my beloved scooter seems about to be a de facto gonner.
Scooter Ken
Before leaving for my winter trip, exactly as I had done last year before going to Brazil, I brought the scoot to the southeast corner of 35th St and 1st Av, where there exists a very-rare-for-Manhattan two huge bike racks. Rugged and thick, they seem built for motorcycles rather than bicycles and are always laden w/ motorcycles and scooters, some of the fairly expensive Vespa and even Harley variety. I’ve seen some motos chained there for over several years untouched. Removed the battery, chained the scooter to the rack, covered it, kissed it good month.

Well I must have picked the wrong time to test this longevity. Got back from my month away a week ago, finally got a chance last night to drive by and make sure all was ok. It was not. Nary a 2-wheeled vehicle in sight. Not even any chains or motorcycle locks left over. Turns out that on Feb 8, NYPD flatbed trucks came through, cut through everything and carted them off to the tow pound. Motive? Who knows. Attempt to raise city revenue? Homeland security? Scooter gangs crackdown? Beats me.

The charge is $185 for the tow, plus $20/day storage. Of course, I had been travelling overseas and they didn’t exactly phone me up anyway to alert of the event, so the days have been racking up. They want $600+ to give it back today, $20 more for every day I wait (no maximum). Since this well-exceeds the value of the vehicle, the indecent yet sensible decision is to simply forfeit the bike. Of course, the bike also had 3 parking tickets attached which were affixed just before they towed it (you don’t even know you got a ticket till you see it at the pound).

Oh, and what will they do w/ the bike? Could I participate in its auction? No. They tell me that within 20 days if unclaimed, they will simply crush it.

I’m taking it amazingly well. For $1400, I got 2 years worth of incredible riding. I can now get another bike. Oh, and I survived crazy 5-boro riding unharmed.

As a last chance, I’m told I could attempt to fight the parking tickets (soon!) in walk-in court. If I prevail, they also call the tow pound and have them release the bike, all charges dropped. Heads you win all, tails you lose all. It reminds me of the coin toss scene in No Country for Old Men: “You stand to win EVERYTHING!”
Coin Toss Scene (c) Coen Bros
(c)Coen Bros

** UPDATE: I won the ‘coin toss’ :) Went to walk-in parking ticket court, they dismissed all 3 tickets, told the pound to release the bike free of charge. Justice is served. **