Posts categorized under ‘Daily life’

Unblock sites on your computer and mobile

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

Here in China more and more content is made unavailable in result of the Great Firewall of China which have been perfected during the last 10 years of its use. The latest news report that GMail now is blocked, but also other big services like HSBC were blocked as recently as in November 2014. There are many techniques to get past the Chinese firewall as well as any other similar blockades, but the easiest way is to use a professional VPN. Not only does a VPN allow you to unblock websites, but it also encrypt your Internet communication making it virtually impossible to listen in to. This is especially a good solution if you are using a lot of open WIFIs like the ones you find in cafes or airports. Without a VPN any computer talented person can easily listen in on all of your Internet use and see which websites you are using, get your passwords and much more.

The VPN which I have tested and that works fine in China is Private Internet Access which cost only $3 per month for a professional and safe solution that you should consider using even if you are not in China but are worried about Internet security. You can even use one single license on up to 5 computers and mobiles, which makes the price even more incredible.  Follow this link for more information.

Another useful thing is that after installing a VPN you can choose which country it should look like you are browsing the Internet from. This allows you to access locally protected media, for example news channels or video sites which are only available from certain countries. Read more about the uses of a VPN [in swedish]

Here is a list of some of the biggest online services blocked in China at writing moment:

Blogger
BlogSpot
Bloomberg
DailyMotion
DeviantArt
DoubleClick
DropBox
DuckDuckGo
EHow
Elance
Facebook
Flickr
Freelancer
Google
Instagram
IStockPhoto
MySpace
NYTimes
ShutterStock
SoundCloud
Twitter
Vimeo
WordPress
Xing
YouTube

Malaysian food

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

While walking Johor Bahru today I found myself in the middle of nowhere and starting to get hungry. The only place nearby was a franchise restaurant and although it would not be my first choice of lunch place in a new country, I decided to go anyway. Great decision!

The people working in the restaurant were incredibly friendly and helpful, and one girl start to write down food I should try while in Malaysia. She disappears for a while and I realize she started to ask all her workmates for more examples of Malaysian food. Later on she comes back to my table and starts a long explanation about every single dish on the huge list she wrote down for me.

So, here is her Malaysian food list, with markings showing which country it originally came from. The Malaysian daily cuisine comes from several countries, matching the most common nationalities living here. These are Malay, Indian and Chinese (M / I / C on the food list).

Malaysian food:

Durian cendol (best in Malaka)
ArsKacang (ABC)
Pulut – M
Kuih lopes – M
Puteri mandi – M
Kuih lopis – M
Karipap – M
Kuih serunding – M
Kuih sambal – M
Nasi lemak
Roti canai
Satay
Laksa Johor
Curry mee – C
Mee soto – M
Lontong – M
Char kuey Teow – C
Tav fu (hot plate) – C
Briyani – I
Tosai – I
Chappati – I
Mee rebus – M
Nasi dagang – M
Har fun – C
Fried lotus – C
Fried rice – C

Malaysian drinks:

Teh tarik – M / I

Malaysian food

Malaysian food (people)

Go Explore!

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

This is a challenge for YOU to go to explore your own home city or a nearby place! This is how you do it:

Take a random bus or train, best is if it’s an unknown line for you. This works with any type of transportation that you don’t control yourself, even hitch hiking. Step of at any place you dont recognize and walk around. Explore.

It can be any place, in the nature or in the city. A place that visually looks like nothing, to get positively surprised, or a place that visually intrigues you. If you try this several times, mix it up.

Enjoy!

Go Explore!

Be happy for the things you already have

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

A lot of times we wish we were somewhere else, did something different or had things we do not have. What we easily forget is to be happy about what we have right NOW, at THIS exact moment.

For example some of the small things we miss when we are traveling, most people take for granted in their “normal” lives. This can be as simple as taking a hot shower, free tap water, electricity, not having 100s of itching mosquito bites, having a warm apartment in the winter, a wardrobe with more than 10 pieces of clothes, a laundry machine, health, missing friends and family etc.

This goes both ways. When you are traveling and miss the things above, be thankful for what you ARE having at the moment. You are out of your daily habits, building experience, meeting new people, doing things you can not do at home and having different weather.

Wherever you are, if it rains today, remember that hot day in the past when the only thing you wished for was rain. Take pauses now and then to think about what you have and be thankful for it!

Guatemala shower giving electrical shocks

Electric shower in Guatemala, giving electric shocks instead of warm water

Normality

Monday, September 3rd, 2012

What is normal? Things that seem strange or “not normal” for us one day can be part of our “normal” life in our future. What is seen as normal is based on our geographical location, culture, background and which people we surround ourselves with.

An everyday pattern takes up to 2 weeks to get into our system, to become automatic, or “normal”. For me nowadays, normality is taking a cold shower with geckos, then walking barefoot in swimming shorts to my work. Having electricity only between 2pm and 6am and no lock on the door.

Normality is what you make it. You can customize your normality, in big steps or in small, to make it perfect for you. At least what is perfect at this moment, because that will change with time. For me personally I like to switch out normality a few times per year. For most people changes like this happen by itself, but you can also accelerate how often it happens, and steer its direction.

A lot of people worry about doing things that seems not normal because of what other people will think about them. But the same things can be what makes you unique, and these things are anyway already normality for at least some other people on this big planet. So do exactly what you feel like, as long as it does not hurt anybody else!

Every time you change your normality you grow.

Normality - what is "Normal"?

Moving towards a goal

Saturday, September 1st, 2012

One important thing for me in life is to continue to learn and grow personally, either through theoretical and spiritual interests or through physical sports or hobbies. Some goals might seem to big to accomplish and therefore people never try to reach them. But if you just take small steps every day towards them, they will come to you sooner or later. And in the meanwhile you are growing, especially while doing things that makes you uncomfortable.

One great example of slowly reaching a giant goal can be seen in the short movie “The Man Who Planted Trees” from 1987 which I like to recommend to people, as I am also now recommending to YOU.

Of course nobody is telling you that you can have only ONE goal. Have as many as possible! Some with short distance and some with greater distance to be reached.

How to find your dream job

Monday, May 21st, 2012

Before you can start searching for or creating your dream job, you need to understand WHAT your dream job IS. For me personally a dream job includes the freedom that comes along with working for yourself, as well as not being fixated to one location. But how to find out which job to choose?

A dream job should be a job that you are passionate about, that keep you awake in the nights fantasizing about the work you will be doing the next day and get you jumping up from the bed in the morning with a smile; well, jumping up at least. Ok this passion will probably not last forever, but then you already know how to find your next dream job and can just change your path again.

Let’s get started! To find your dream job, start with answering these questions one by one:

  • What gives me meaning? What provides me with a sense of purpose?
  • What gives me pleasure? What do I enjoy doing?
  • What are my strengths? What am I good at?

Finished? Now is the time to start thinking about how they can be combined. For example if you ENJOY meeting travelers and feel a PURPOSE of helping the local community while your STRENGTHS are socializing and getting people together, then one dream job for you could be to start a hostel where a part of the income goes back to projects in the community.

One great advantage with starting your own company is that you can usually do it step by step parallel to your current every day job. When business start coming in, go down to half time on your regular job and finally quit it when you feel ready. So if you are tired of your job, what is your excuse not to start building your new dream life NOW? It might take some effort in the beginning, but think of how big the reward is!

How to find your dream job (scuba diving in Egypt)

Kouris Dam, Cyprus

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

Kouris Dam is the largest of the 180 Cyprus dams. Dams here on Cyprus are very important for the people living here, not only because they need them to survive but they are also a recreational place to visit. A few days ago the Kouris Dam, the largest of the 180 Cyprus dams, overflowed for the second time in it’s 24 year old history. Kouris Dam has a height of 110 meters, a surface area of 3.6 km3 and a capacity of 115 MCM (115 000 km3), which is about 35% of the total capacity of all the dams on Cyprus together.

For scuba diving enthusiasts Kouris Dam also has a submerged church that is possible to dive into when the water level is high enough.

To see a list of all the dams in Cyprus, current water level of each dam and more statistics, visit this link

Or for more information about when and how each dam were build, visit this link

As you can see on the first link, this year the inflow of water is already the highest since the last 10 years with a record high peak in January 2012.

Kouris dam

Kouris dam bridge

Kouris dam exit

Kouris dam toys, alcohol and icecream

Kouris dam statistics

APOEL Nicosia vs Real Madrid

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

I am no football fan but this has to be written anyway. Here on Cyprus people are crazy for football and tonight’s match has been on the discussion for a long time; the match between the giant Real Madrid and Nicosia’s APOEL.

Nicosia already had a match against Real Madrid in 1969, but then in Real’s Santiago Bernabeu stadium. This time the match is on Cypriot land with a maximum of 12 000 spectators in the stadium comparing to Santiago Bernabeu’s maximum of 125 000.

Riots after football matches are common here on Cyprus, as everywhere else, so let’s see what tonight’s match will result in.

Facebook addiction – why is Facebook addictive?

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

Facebook addictionMore and more people understand that they have a Facebook addiction (FAD). But do you know WHY Facebook is so addictive?

Facebook is built almost entirely on a reward system, the same system most of the successful games like Battlefield and World on Warcraft are built on. Our body’s reward system gets active when we anticipate something, and when the anticipation is rewarded dopamine is released into our brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for feelings of pleasure and well-being, which is the same reward system that strong drugs are tapping into. The less time that goes from the anticipation to the dopamine effect the more addictive the drug is. In games we get the reward by getting better weapons, higher “status” or points and moving on to new levels. In Facebook the reward comes within a short time from posting any content on the web site, as soon as somebody else comments back or “likes” it. The addiction is taken to an even higher level as there can have been a lot of feedback or events also while you were logged out, something we haven’t seen in computer games before.

When people get addicted to any drug they get used to the dosage and after a while they need to raise the dosage, which means that people want even more rewards (feedback) after a period of using Facebook. The only way to get this is to collect more Facebook friends and to post more content, or more extreme content, to get the same dopamine amount as the addiction require.

So what do you do if you find yourself in a Facebook addiction?

  • Set limits – Set up a schedule for how long time you can use Facebook per day or per week. If possible, also put Facebook free days in the schedule.
  • Find a substitute – Because your body are used to a high dosage of reward you need to find a substitute that will give you the same feeling of reward. This can be a new hobby, working out, doing a sport or creating art.
  • Decide positive and negative actions – Decide what will happen if you use Facebook more then your schedule allow. For example, give away 5 euro to a homeless person every time it happens. The same if you manage to hold the schedule, give yourself a monthly reward (no, the reward cannot be one extra hour on Facebook)

Good luck!

Sofia protests

Friday, February 10th, 2012

Protests are part of everyday life here in Sofia but during the last month they have been more than normal, especially with regard to the record cold winter that is currently hitting Bulgaria.

Most protests this winter have been against the ski resort on Vitosha’s illegal expansion into nature protected areas, which resulted in the ski lifts on Vitosha being closed leaving people with no option then to go further away from Sofia to go skiing or snowboarding. Here is what Radio Bulgaria has to say about the whole event:

Issues there emerged when in 2007 the Municipal Agency sold all lifts in the most visited part of the mountain to a private company. It did not take long before the new monopolist showed its views for the future of the mountain. Saying it was renovating the ski runs it dug out 350 huge boulders part of the protected stone rivers on Vitosha. Plants and habitats were destroyed but the reaction of the management of the Vitosha Park and a coalition of 30 non-governmental organizations stopped the work of bulldozers in the park stopped. According to the management plan of the mountain, the company was not allowed to change in any way the relief or natural vegetation, owned by the State Forest Fund. The new owners did not replace the old lifts, but stopped them and lobbied for law changes, guaranteeing them construction of a new bigger ski zone. Days before New Year’s Eve the changes were adopted, giving a green light to the private owners’ aims to start building new lifts in Vitosha without even paying taxes for that. According to experts, these changes cause losses of more than 25 million euro of budget revenues.

Then there were the shale gas protests. I am happy the Bulgarian’s really care about their amazing nature and want to protect it, which is very visible on how many people are showing up for these protests. This time the protests actually worked and on the 18th of January the Bulgarian government banned shale drilling.

Last but not least is the anti-ACTA protests that will take place tomorrow in 17 Bulgarian cities, and here in Sofia will start in front of NDK (National Palace of Culture) at 11 am. These protests are a result of Bulgaria signing the ACTA agreement in Tokyo on the 26th January together with 21 more EU countries.

Sofia protests

Google privacy changes

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

The last week you might have noticed that a lot of web services updated their privacy policies. This is actually more then 60 Google privacy policies that are changing into only one and the same privacy policy for all their services. Whether you like it or not, if you are using Google search, Google Calendar, Google Chrome, Google Maps, Google Translate, GMail, YouTube, Picasa, Android or other services from Google these privacy policies will start to work on the 1 March this year, that is, in a month from now.

The most noticeable Google privacy policy that is forced on it’s users can be read here:

Some of our Services allow you to submit content. You retain ownership of any intellectual property rights that you hold in that content. In short, what belongs to you stays yours.

When you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content. The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones. This license continues even if you stop using our Services (for example, for a business listing you have added to Google Maps).

Also interesting are these lines:

We believe that you own your data and preserving your access to such data is important. If we discontinue a Service, where reasonably possible, we will give you reasonable advance notice and a chance to get information out of that Service.

Have you ever thought about what will happen if the online community you use the most (like Facebook or LinkedIn) disappear from one second to another? How many of the contacts you have on the web site do you also have an alternative way to communicate with?

More and more people are getting concerned over the Google privacy as you can see in the graph below, showing searches for this topic during the last years:

Google privacy

So which of your information do Google keep and share? In the Google privacy policy you can read the following:

When you use our services or view content provided by Google, we may automatically collect and store certain information in server logs. This may include:

  • details of how you used our service, such as your search queries.
  • telephony log information like your phone number, calling-party number, forwarding numbers, time and date of calls, duration of calls, SMS routing information and types of calls.
  • Internet protocol address (your location).
  • device event information such as crashes, system activity, hardware settings, browser type, browser language, the date and time of your request and referral URL.
  • cookies that may uniquely identify your browser or your Google Account

Local storage

We may collect and store information (including personal information) locally on your device using mechanisms such as browser web storage (including HTML 5) and application data caches.

 

To be fare about it Google also have a service that helps you remove your information in their different services, or just back up the information on your local hard drive. Here is the link:  http://www.dataliberation.org

If you are concerned about Internet privacy and security then I recommend you to use Private Internet Access which will encrypt all your traffic and making it virtually impossible to trace you or your communication online.

Happy Googling!

Sofia in snow

Friday, January 27th, 2012

This week it has snowed almost constantly here in Sofia. I usually don’t like the winter season but at the same time am I happy to be here, as Sofia is one of the most beautiful cities in winter time for me. Yesterday I got inspired while taking a walk and made the movie below, enjoy! This is my love song to Sofia:

 

Of course who can resist to take some pictures also?

Alexander Nevsky with lady

Cats from above

Shopping dog

Snow boots

Snowy animals

Snowy street

Snowy statue

Sofia park in snow

Sofia Vitosha winter

Bulgarian recipe: Sirene po Shopski

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

Second recipe posted on this blog, also this time from Bulgaria and again vegetarian. Bulgaria have really high quality of vegetables and other ingredients which makes the food here incredible fresh and tasty. Again, in this recipe there is the Bulgarian white cheese which is not to be found in most other countries (it is not the same as feta cheese).

Sirene po Shopski (2 portions)

400 gram white cheese
150 gram yellow cheese
2 eggs
2 roasted peppers
2 hot peppers
2 tomatoes
Parsley

Cut the cheese, peppers and tomatoes into eatable size pieces (don’t mix it). Take two Gyuveche pot (earthware pots) and first add a layer of cheese, then the peppers and tomatoes and finally a second layer of cheese. Heat the pots in the oven until the cheese have melted. Add the eggs on top and put the pots back into the oven until the eggs have the consistency that you want. Top with parsley and let cool down for a short while.

Sirene po Shopski - Bulgarian vegetarian recipe

Bulgarian recipe: Mish mash

Saturday, December 10th, 2011

This is my first recipe post on this blog. Mish mash is a traditional Bulgarian vegetarian dish that is very easy to prepare. The only problem that you might have is to find something similar to the white cheese found in Bulgaria and very commonly used in food here. The Bulgarian white cheese looks like normal feta cheese but taste different. The recipe should also work with feta cheese or you can skip the cheese.

Mish mash (2-3 portions)

3 tomatoes
3 red peppers
1 yellow onion
3 eggs
150 gram white cheese
parsley
oil
salt & pepper

Cut the tomatoes, red peppers, onion, cheese and parsley into eatable size pieces (don’t mix it). Heat the oil in a pan and throw in the chopped onion. After some minute, add the peppers. Stir. Again after some minute, also add the tomatoes. Stir. Cook for 4 minutes and then add the cheese and eggs. Stir. Cook for 3 more minutes (don’t make the eggs to dry) and finally add parsley, salt & pepper on top of the dish. Take the pan off the heat and wait for a short while before serving.

For the Turkish version of this recipe (Menemen), add some chopped spicy salami and hot spices.

Bulgarian mish mash & homemade tea

Small things in life

Sunday, December 4th, 2011

Happiness is … finally moving into a new apartment with a normal shower and bed

Happiness is not … finding an ant trail straight across your new bed

Happiness is … waking up at 5 o’clock just in time to go to the ocean and see the sunrise over Saudi Arabia

Happiness is not … waking up at 1 o’clock to the sound of a mosquito

Happiness is … relaxing in a park with a cold beer in your hand

Happiness is not  realizing you forgot the beer

Happiness is … sitting under the stars in Egypt with good friends watching the lunar eclipse

Happiness is not sitting under the sun without any shadow in sight

Happiness is … practicing your new language at the local coffee place and getting understood

Happiness is not … practicing your new language and getting the answer back in English

Happiness is … meeting random incredible people while hitch hiking

Happiness is not  getting dumped in the middle of nowhere by the police just because you were hitch hiking on the highway

Happiness is … having everything you own in your backpack and being able to change place at any moment

Happiness is not  washing all your clothes at the same time and realizing that all your white clothes are now pink

Happiness is … meeting a new friend and to create a long lasting relationship

Happiness is not leaving a friend and knowing that it will take years before you meet again

Today’s addiction of constant approval

Saturday, December 3rd, 2011

Social media addictionFacebook, YouTube and social media in general have changed the world during the last years. Not only do these services let us keep in contact with more people on a daily bases, but people are also getting more and more addicted to constant approval. Within a few years everybody’s Facebook page will be public for anyone to see, and the structure will be more like Twitter with subscriptions and openness. This will result in everybody trying to be seen as much as possible, which will lead to the point where people will go to more and more extreme methods of doing so, with less concern for their privacy. This will result in a scenario like the TV reality show Big Brother, but on a much larger scale.

What would you do if you could not tell anybody what you were doing for one year? That is, if the only reward you got was from your self? Today people are used to get tons of positive comments on posts like what they eat for dinner, and this will only get more extreme. If we would take this away, will people still continue the same pattern of life or change their life style? Or will the trend break with social media being less used in the future, or at least used for different purposes? Already now we see an incredible acceleration in learning through online sharing, within for example hobbies & sports, technology and development exploding in creativeness. Either because people can see what others have done and duplicate it, taking it to the next level and share it again, or by collected knowledge from all over the world that can be used to solve problems.

Sunday markets in Berlin

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

Recently I found one of my old blog posts from Berlin which I forgot to finish, so here it comes (a bit late). The idea was to make a list over some of the markets in Berlin, but the Sunday Open Air Parties took over and the list was never finished.

Trödelmarkt @ Boxhagener Platz
Mostly clothes & mixed things
Open: 10:00 – 18:00

RAW Flohmarkt @ RAW Tempel
Small market with great food, clothes & mixed things
Open: 6:00 – 19:00
www.raw-flohmarkt.de

Flohmarkt @ Mauerpark
Don’t miss the outdoor karaoke next to the market
www.mauerparkmarkt.de

Flohmarkt @ Kreuzberg
Moritzplatz

Oberbaumbrucke market
Takes place on the famous Oberbaumbrucke. Here you will find mostly paintings and art.

Hallentrödelmarkt Treptow
Mix of indoor and outdoor market with all kinds of things. Best market to find bicycles.
Open: 10:00 – 16:00

Großer Antikmarkt @ Ostbahnhof
Furniture, antiques, records and books
Erich-Steinfurth-Strasse
Open: 09:00 – 17:00


RAW Flohmarkt

RAW Flohmarkt, with Der Kegel in the background

Hallentrödelmarkt Treptow
Hallentrödelmarkt Treptow

Oberbaumbrucke market
Oberbaumbrucke market

Bulgarian street protests against Roma boss

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

The last days in Sofia and other Bulgarian cities there have been street gangs in the centers together with massive police- ambulance- and firetruck gatherings during the evening. The reason is a 19 year old kid who was run over and killed last Friday by a Roma man. According to rumors the kill was ordered by the Roma Tsar Kiro (Kiril Rashkov), and one day before the accident one of the Tsar’s grandsons wrote on his Facebook profile “The one who is my enemy should die in a traffic accident!”. This have resulted in big continuous street riot with hundreds of people, mostly soccer hooligans and ultra-rightists, arrested and the Tsar together with his family and clan members taken in protection by the police. Also one of the Tsar’s homes was burned down last Saturday by hooligans that were gathered from several Bulgarian cities.

A lot of people think that everything that happen here right now is partly because of the upcoming elections. Both before and after the accident several probes of the Tsar’s real estate properties and assets were done by the National Revenue Agency (NRA).

It’s common in Bulgaria that the police is leaking information in their press releases, like names and addresses of people. In this case they for example stated that “The family is going to be taken to an unidentified location, 80 km away from Sofia.” which can only be three cities. Also they told that the driver of the car was a 55 year old man with the initials C.Y.

Where this will lead nobody knows, but many of the Bulgarians seem to support the riots as they think the Roma people are unfairly privileged. It’s a shame that the Roma people will get an even worse reputation after this event.

There are about 400-800 000 Roma people living in Bulgaria depending on different sources. 

The future of [no] privacy

Monday, September 19th, 2011

With social media getting bigger and bigger, more people are starting to wonder about their privacy. The business model with social media is to have as much information as possible about the members, which at the same time means less private life. Social media like Facebook have advanced privacy policies that changes all the time, and even if the members set their privacy settings to maximum the security of Facebook fail over and over again with ALL the information about every member possible to read for any person, and for a while even their private chats. This, together with most of Facebook’s applications (including Farmville used by 60+ million users) still leaking user information to research- and advertising companies makes the privacy settings a total hoax. Even if you one day finally decide to delete your account, Facebook keeps all your information for private use for an unknown period of time.

Some of the new functions on Facebook is automatic face recognition and location tracing. This means, not only will it be possible to see where you have been at all time, but also to find all the pictures with you on them, even if you are only in the background of a stranger’s photo. Facebook already have around 75 billion uploaded photographs at this moment, with this number raising by 140 000 uploaded pictures every minute. In earlier versions of their Terms of Service they stated that the users owned the single rights of their pictures and that anything else was only rumors, but this have now changed and Facebook have the right to use all your data and pictures however they want. One of Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg said in a live interview that the age of privacy is over, giving companies and developers open information about all Facebook member’s connections to friends and interests. This goes hand in hand with the changes in Facebook’s default settings that have made the member’s data more and more open to the public for every change.

Not only are everything you post online saved for future need of the companies, also everything you search for in the search engines are saved. This means that it’s very easy to create a not only current profile of a person, but what their interests and thoughts was at a certain time in the history.

In 2009 Microsoft, who bought Skype in May 2011 and which is now also integrated with Facebook, took a patent on a technique that will allow them to listen into all the phone calls of the 170 million users of Skype. This technique will most probably be used in cooperation with national security, but can also be used with advertisement and other services. For national security, techniques like this have already been in service since at least 40 years back in time with systems like ECHELON placed all over the world listening in on our regular phone calls, emails, faxes and sms.

Even some Internet Service Providers (the companies that delivers internet to you) have plans on using a technique that allow them to build up a profile of a person’s web surfing habits, and with that a profile of the person. This information will then in a first step be sold to advertisers. Already today is this information available to governments upon request.

In London the CCTV is a failure with only 1 out of 1000 crimes solved. But still they continue to use this system which allows them to have cameras on every street in the city. With these cameras the computers can use their facial recognition system to track a single person and even be notified when they enter or exit the city.

With people getting more and more obsessed with sharing all their experiences and thoughts online, the question is where this will stop. At the same time, a few people are starting to react and trying to do something about the situation. In May 2011 Facebook lost 7 million active users from USA and Canada. The social media networks are of course doing all they can to keep the members depending on their services, integrating more and more functions and merging web services with each other. An avarage of 10 000 new web sites integrate with Facebook every day. The next big step will be when we are having our bank accounts on Facebook and Google, which will allow them to track all our expenses.

Where will you set the line of giving away your privacy? Or are we entering a new era where privacy is not a concern anymore?

Footnote: If you are concerned about Internet privacy and security then I recommend you to use Private Internet Access which will encrypt all your traffic and making it virtually impossible to trace you or your communication online.

No privacy

No surveilance

Throw out the TV

Sunday, September 4th, 2011

Today I will give you an experiment as a task. Lets say that at the moment you are watching television or surfing the internet for fun for about 2 hours every day. This is 700 hours in one year, or almost a month if you add it up.

Imagine if you would spend this time doing something else instead, something that would take you more near a goal that you had for a long time but thought you don’t have time or energy to reach. This could be learning a new instrument, sport or hobby, getting fit or loose weight, to build something, studying for a new career, the limits are endless. If you are new in a city, you can for example spend one hour every day walking different streets to get to know the area and get healthier at the same time.

I will not tell you what to do with all the extra time, what project you should choose, so now is the time for you to start fantasizing – and then make it real!

Fernsehturm TV tower Berlin

Parks in Berlin

Sunday, August 21st, 2011

I wrote earlier about the festivals in Germany being one of the reasons why I moved here about a month ago. Another good reason to be in Berlin during the summer is definitely the parks. Berlin have a lot of them, and wherever you live you will probably find a favorite park near you. Here are some of the central (AB area) parks which are highest on my list:


Görlitzer Park
Nice park to hang out in, both during the day time and night time. In this park you can almost always hear some live music that comes together with the young crowd that fills this park at all time, specially around the café inside the park.

Görlitzer Park Berlin


Mauerpark
One of the more famous parks in Berlin, due to the Sunday market and outdoor karaoke that takes place at 3 o’clock during the market days. The karaoke is with a huge crowd that sits in a ring around the singer, with the same layout as an old Roma theater. Besides this the park offer various possibilities for sports like basketball and boules, big chance for live music and a wall for graffiti.

Mauerpark Berlin

Mauer park Berlin


Tiergarten
Situated in the middle of the center and still big enough to have places to hide inside,  this park has something for everyone. Big green areas together with forest, not to many walking paths but still enough to easily bicycle here.

Tiergarten

Tiergarten park


Treptower Park
This park is a bit different as it follows a river which gives you that highly demanded water in the summer, at least to look at. Treptower Park has a lot of young people in it, and here you will find ping pong tables, boats for rent and a lot of barbecuing people. Within the park there is also a community with people living in circus wagons, where there sometimes is events taking place.

Treptower Park Berlin

Treptower Park

Treptow Park


Tempelhof Park
Tempelhof Park is also a very different park in many ways. To start with it is build on an old airfield. This makes it very flat and with no trees or vegetation besides the grass. Here you find a lot of different sports like RC airplanes, kites, roller blades and more.

Tempelhof Park

Tempelhof Park Berlin


Viktoriapark
Middle size park with a viewpoint over the city (not very high up though) and a waterfall, together with a few open green areas of good size and a restaurant.

Viktoriapark

Viktoriapark Berlin


Volkspark Friedrichshain
This is a really nice middle size park with a lot of possibilities for sport. You can for example find a bouldering wall, beach volley ball field, skateboard area, tennis and much more. There are also a lot of areas with water, but not for swimming. One bad thing is the abundance of trails which makes it difficult to find a green area without people walking by all the time.

Volkspark Friedrichshain

Volkspark Friedrichshain Berlin


Volkspark Hasenheide
Really nice park with several big open spaces and a good combination of people. Big chance of live music.

Volkspark Hasenheide

Volkspark Hasenheide Berlin

Hasenheide Park


Volkspark Humboldthain
Park with some big open grass field without to many trails or people. Here you can also find an old military wall to rope climb on, as well as a view over the city from the old flak tower that was [unsuccessfully] used to defend Berlin against air raids during the World War II.

Humboldthain park

Volkspark Humboldthain Berlin

Volkspark Humboldthain

Life

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

I can tailor make my life. Make every dream come true. But not at the same time. Which reality to choose?

Happiness

Sunday, May 15th, 2011

Scuba diving Blue Hole (dive ever - work never)

Happiness is bicycling to work in swimming shorts

Meeting & leaving friends

Friday, May 13th, 2011

I meet people almost every week that I fall in love with. It can be very chilled out relaxed people, or people with interesting life goals and missions, or just very individual people that are fun to be around.

At the same time as I am very greatful for the chance to meet all these people, it gets very tiring to keep saying goodbye to them, knowing it will probably take years, if ever, to see them again.

I could choose to stay in one place, or to only travel between the countries where I have friends who I should visit, but if I do this I know I lack out of so many future friends from different cultures and backgrounds. The choice is mine and already taken, but it’s not always an easy choice.

In a near future I will probably choose one or two “base” cities in the world where I can come back more often between my travels, and where I can take care of long lasting relationships.

“Nice one mate” – Sam

Emergency First Response

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

This morning in Dahab at 6 am I heard a semi loud crash, followed by a rumble some seconds later. When I look out my balcony I see people running to the hostel Bishbishi just 10 meters away, where I stayed last week before finding an apartment. Remembering my Emergency First Response (EFR) course I did just a few days before, I create a plastic object to be able to safely give mouth-to-mouth and CPR if needed. Then I run down to Bishbishi to see that two connected houses have collapsed.

Out from one of the house a naked guy is walking, covered from top to bottom in stripes of blood. He is telling people his girlfriend is still under the rumble (which I don’t understand how he could manage to get out from). Also he says he can not move one of his legs, as he [is forced to] sit down and relax while half of the crowd starts to support the roof with wooden sticks to push it up.

I tell one guy to call the ambulance and he runs away, but don’t come back. After a short while I see another guy with a phone and asks him if he called the ambulance, which he confirms and I passes on the information to the hurt guy and the guy looking after him.

After a while the girlfriend is able to exit the rumble and they unite. They are helped to the main street where the ambulance arrives 5 minutes later and transports them to the hospital, together with a shivering shocked girl. At the same time their parents, who are up in the Sinai mountains, are notified.

The outcome from this accident (they are all fine and recovering at the hospital) was incredibly lucky and could have been much worse. The feeling of being at the scene just a few days after doing my EFR was a bit unreal, but makes it even more clear how good this course is. It can be done by everybody and is very easy to do. I really recommend everyone to do it, you never know when it comes in need!

To learn more, click here

Wing Chun

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

I recently started training Wing Chun in a nearby park here in Las Palmas, after my current flatmate who works in Guardia Civil told me about it. This martial art is totally different from any other martial arts I have practiced before, as it is based on very near contact, a constant soft flow instead of hard attacks and also on combining defense and attacks at the same movement. The training of the choreography for the movements are meditative and helps you know and use your body better.

The story of Wing Chun, which nobody knows is true or not, is that the woman Yim Wing Chun is forced to marry a warlord if she can not beat him in a match of martial art. A Buddhist nun who earlier was in the Shaolin Sect helps her by teaching her a style that does not favor strength or force but instead coreography and quickness. She then defeats the warlord and marries Leung Bac-Chou, who also learn the style he later decide to call Wing Chun after his wife.

Wing Chun is a form om Kung Fu and have been practised by famous martial art people like Sum Nung, Yip Man and Bruce Lee.

Gran Canaria & backpacking

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

After about two weeks here on Gran Canaria (in the Canary Islands, Spain) I have found a really nice apartment just 50 meters from the ocean and beach/surfing. Before that I was living on a hill with very nice view but not within walking distance to everything, which is really important when living in a place for a while.

Although it is almost the same weather here all year around it is possible to see the differences now with more rain and colder water. Some few brave people are going swimming but the surfers are out there every day as soon as the waves are right.

Top 5 travel mobile phone applications

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

Free Android mobile phone applications for travel - top 5I have during the last year found some interesting and useful applications that I use in my mobile. Some of these are good when travelling and I thought to share them with you. All the applications are for free, but keep in mind that they are for mobile phones with the Android operating system. You can probably find similar programs for your mobile phone if you have another OS.

1) MapDroyd
This program gives you an offline map for whatever countries you choose, with street names and interesting points like gas- train- and bus stations, hospitals and more. Every country usually takes between 1-100 mb of space to download, and when you have it you don’t need an internet connection like Google Maps and similar map applications do. The only negative thing with MapDroyd is that it does not have navigation built in yet, which means you can only use it as a map instead of getting directions from point A to B.

2) Compass
It’s self explanatory that it is sometimes good to have a compass. The thing with this application is that you also can save positions and later on you will see in which direction the saved position is in and how many meters away it is. I prefer to find the way by myself or even getting lost, which makes you learn the neighborhood faster, but this application is a good backup when you are tired or in a hurry.

3) SlovoEd Compact dictionaries
I use different dictionaries for different  languages but keep coming back to SlovoEd’s compact dictionary which I think works fine and have a lot of languages to choose from. It also have speech built in to hear pronunciations. On top of this I use Advanced English & Thesaurus to improve my English. This dictionary have more than 1.4 million words, synonyms, antonyms, related words and explanations.

4) GPSTracker Lite
This program is good for a lot of different things. The main idea is to track your movement and then get statistics over your speed and altitude and even to see on a map or satellite picture where you have been. This is for example good when working out (bicycling, running etc) or trekking.

5) AK Notepad
Ok most people use TripIt to save their travel information, but I think the service is not user friendly and usually doesn’t work with the airlines I travel with. That’s why I use AK Notepad instead to write down important travel information and other things that I have to remember. The program even have an optional setting to back up your notes online.

The applications above are all downloadable from the Android Market. On top of these applications I also use some of the already built-in applications in the Android OS, like the calendar (with Google Calendar synchronization), the email application, the web browser, alarm clock, WIFI analyzers and security programs.

Street selling & artists in Lisbon, Portugal

Friday, January 7th, 2011

Because one of my friends is selling artworks on the streets here in Lisbon I have talked even more than usual to other street artists and performers here, trying to help her. What I have noticed is that the police are much more liberal here than in other countries in Europe. Most people that earns money on the street are never bothered by the police, and only a few newcomers gets their stuff taken away if they are not liked by the local police. Also it’s a big difference between the winter- and summer season here, with very little business in the winter period and during the summer business bloom for everyone. Even before Christmas the business were bad for everyone but the beggars and expensive shops.

I have also been in contact with some shop owners selling different kind of handicraft or importing art from other countries. They tell me that the rent for a small shop in any of the many different shop areas here are from 1500 euro per month and up, which means that it is very difficult for new companies to afford it. The art shops that are here already don’t sell so much and even have whole days sometimes without even one customer, but they have had the same store/contract for 10 years and have very good rent deals because of this.

All in all, Lisbon seems to get more and more expensive, with the result that there are over 4 000 empty buildings (of total 55 000) here at the moment because of people leaving the city. This means that the city is actually shrinking in population every year because of the high rents. On top of this they have a whopping 24% of the residents that are 65 years old or more. Because of all the young people having to live outside Lisbon, more than half a million people (with 400 000 cars) commute to the city every day to work.

Even with all these empty buildings Lisbon is very difficult to squat in according to several sources. Either the police interfere and throw everybody out in the middle of the night, or the building gets demolished. For me it seems strange that the Portuguese police have so liberal view on some things, but at the same time are much tougher on squatters than for example in Spain.

Street artist; freeze juggler (Lisbon, Portugal)

Street artist; spray painter (Lisbon, Portugal)

Street artist; street musicians (Lisbon, Portugal)

Lisbon weather (Portugal)

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

Weather Lisbon, Portugal (sunset)The weather here in Lisbon is really interesting. Because of a lot of wind (which you don’t feel on the ground) the weather changes quickly during the days. This means that the day usually start with sunshine, blue sky and around 16 degrees, but at any moment during the day heavy rain will probably start. Then the rain and sun switches place all along the day, sometimes every 5 minutes. Also the rain can be ice-rain instead, but not so commonly.

When I arrived here was biting cold winter, but now two weeks later the weather is great. What I have heard though is that December and January should be the coldest months here.

I was lucky enough to get perfect weather for New Years Ewe, celebrating it with some friends at the Praça do Comércio together with thousands of other people. The free concert was not so impressive but the opposite can be said about the firework show.

Here are some weather statistics for Lisbon:

Summer Winter
Degrees 22-28 C 14-19 C
Days of rain 2-8 11-15
Rainfall 5-40 mm 65-114 mm

One of the results of the wet weather here combined with badly isolated houses is that mold are very common in Portugal in the apartments. Some people try to make it better by reducing the moisture level with machines, but this just helps a little bit and most people just let it be. Long term exposure on high levels can result in mold allergy, which you will recognize by coughing, headaches, irritated eyes, problems breathing, tiredness and sneezing.

The Ancestors

Monday, October 25th, 2010

I was invited to lunch at a newly found friend’s place, a Mozambican girl born in Maputo, and after the food we started discussing religion. She told me about the different beliefs in Mozambique, and the most interesting for me was the Ancestors, which usually are combined with a “normal” religion.

Most people here in Mozambique (and also in South Africa) believe that when the old family members die they become a personal “god” and looks after their family. Once or twice per year the living family members worship the Ancestors through a ceremony that can for example include sacrifice of an animal and dancing. Usually the family do this when they need something specific, like rain for the crops. Because they don’t have a specific place to worship and pay tribute to their Ancestors, they usually have a specific tree instead that they go and sit under while doing this.

This is another proof that the family bonds in the southern countries are tighter than in the north of Europe. Also in these countries it is obvious for the younger family members to take care of their elders (including the husbands parents) when they can’t take care of them selves. This is totally opposite to Scandinavia where it’s the norm to move your elders to an “elder home”, where they have employed people to take care of them.

Living situation in Mozambique

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

One day when I was at the pub with a friend I asked her about the living situation of the poor people here. I have seen several camps here and also you see people building their own very simple houses everywhere along the roads between the cities. What I wondered was if they are living there illegal like the Roma people in Europe, or if they own/rent the land. What she told me was astonishing!

How it works here is that you go to the old people of the area you want to move to and ask them if there is some free land there. Then they will give you a land for free, but only if you build a house there with the intention to live there. You can also go to the government and ask them for a not specific place to live, which will result in you getting land at a random place, again for free.

The catch is that if the government needs the land in the future, for example if they are going to build a road, you will need to give back the land to them. BUT you will be given a new place to live, and also some money to replace the house you have built on your old land.

I am really interested in the lives and complications of the Roma people and wish that they could get a deal like the poor here in Mozambique. Also people here don’t look down on these people, which leads to them easier getting a job and not getting excluded from the society as the Roma people often are.

Pick pocketing

Friday, October 15th, 2010

Today I had two guys trying to steal my things in a local bus using the sandwich technique (pressing against you from each direction). This has happened to me a lot of times, in a lot of countries, but they never got away with it so far. Here are a few tips that will help you keep your belongings. A lot of the tips are common sense, but it’s still good to be reminded of them.

  • Don’t have valuables in a wide pocket or open handbag
  • If you have a backpack, have a lock on the pockets and keep it in front of you when you are waiting or are in a local transport
  • Same with a handbag keep it in front of you when you are not walking
  • If people are within a hands distance from you, keep your hands in the pockets (or where your valuables are)
  • Don’t think you can recognize a pick pocket; he can be a homeless guy or a guy in suit. At a carnival in India I caught one guy in suit and a business suitcase with his hand in my pocket, probably with a hidden compartment in his suitcase to easily stash away new things.
  • Pick pockets work both by themselves and in pair. In the later case, the accomplice usually stops in front of you with the intention that you walk into them, while the pick pocket are behind you stealing your things. Another common distraction is also when the accomplice ask you a question to distract you.
  • A common technique is that pick pockets hides their hands with a jacket or newspaper (in crowded places)
  • Be extra careful in places where you are more easily chosen in a crowd, for example if you are the only white face or the only one with shorts.

To minimize the eventual damage you can do this:

  • Have only the necessary valuables and money with you at all time
  • Use a cheap phone when you don’t need your fancy/work mobile phone
  • Don’t walk around with your passport, instead have a photo copy of it with you
  • Use several small size memory cards for your camera instead of a big one
  • Back up your pictures so at least you have them if your camera gets stolen

The most common place to steal from you is at tourist spots, local transports and in generally crowded places. This specially includes train stations, metro and busses.

Pick pocketing in metro