Tag Archives: travels

Time to plan vacations

This year I want to take my family for long trip. But not just a trip but Moomins influenced one because my daughter likes to listen when we read books about them.

So from Szczecin to Olecko (where my mother lives) for few days. Lakes, few old friends, family. Then go north.

Through Lithuania to Latvia to Tallinn, Estonia. Sight seeing here and there to not just drive through all those countries. But probably skip Vilnius as it is on a side.

Then ferry to Helsinki, walk around for a day. And the next step would be Moomin World in Naantali, Finland. No idea how much time it requires. From there to Tempere to visit Tampere Art Museums Moominvalley.

The whole trip needs to be in July when Mira has vacations. And it is also the only time when Finland has summer (but have to check which days :)

Have to check where to stay, who to meet (Riku? Thomas? probably few more), which way to go, what to see. And also I need to get new ID for Mira.

Hope that it will be a great adventure ;D

Is being connected a need or a must?

For all previous FOSDEM visits I was offline. You know: high roaming costs, not liking to use random open wifi networks etc. But not this time.

I arrived yesterday morning at BRU airport. Planned to buy a simcard there but managed to skip whole shopping part without realising what I did.

But when I arrived in a city centre I noticed a “free wifi” sign at the Novotel hotel so decided to make use of it. Flood of Google+ and Facebook notifications was what I got. Checked in on Foursquare and minute later met XorA with Anya. We took a coffee, discussed about work, life and then went for some walk.

Half hour later I left some small shop with a BASE simcard in my Nexus 5 with 1GB of transfer available. My standard simcard went to the backup phone (Nokia 101 this time). Quick look at Foursquare, Google+ and Facebook and I saw where my friends are and could get in contact. Met Philip, Koen, Vladimir and several other guys, got invited to a dinner etc. Managed to take some portals down in Ingress game as well ;-)

Not that I would not be able to survive without a local simcard. There are lot of open wireless networks in Brussels but how many of them are safe?

Internet over GSM abroad? Forget it…

Several times per year I am abroad for some conferences or holidays. And lack of Internet access from a cellphone there sucks.

In October I was in Munich, Germany for some internal Red Hat training. Had most of day for sightseeing but doing it without constant access to the Internet was a bit of disaster as I did not have time in previous week to mark interesting spots in Google Maps or to make any notes. And it was Sunday so all stores were closed == no way to buy local prepaid card.

In February I will visit Brussels, Belgium for FOSDEM and then Brno, Czech Republic for devconf.cz. Local SIM cards for both countries would be nice.

Did not yet checked Belgium ones yet but did that for Czech Republic. And man… situation there is awful. 200MB for 150CZK from mobil.cz looks like best offer for prepaid. Disaster… I wonder how slow it will be as well.

But there are exceptions. In United Kingdom and Hong Kong I went to first Three shop and got unlimited data at affordable price. Spain was a bit strange as I had to register SIM card. But for 20€ I got something like 2GB of data.

In Poland I am topping up my SIM with 100 PLN every 2-3 months and this gives me 6GB of transfer as a bonus. I now have 45GB of data available without any extra costs. And prepaid cards from all operators are available to buy at every corner…

My UK trip — Cambridge

Cambridge is nice city. I was there at least once every year since 2009: OEDEM 2009, Emdebian sprint in 2010, during Linaro Connect q3.11, ARMv8 sprint in 2012. But this time it was not work related visit.

Saturday

It was evening when I reached Cambridge. Paweł took me from the train station and I had occasion to see their new house and how they plan to restructure it. We discussed some things, spoke a bit (mostly I) about ARMology (history of ARM cores) and day ended.

Sunday

Lazy day spent on wandering around in the centre of Cambridge. I could go to Ely or Norwich instead but decided to just take a long walk and see places which I already saw before and find something new as well.

One of new places was Market Square Street Market where many local products could be bought and/or tried. Ostrich burgers, cakes, cookies, cheese, different things made from wood, metal or screws, jewellery made from misc materials like buttons. There were books, movies, music on CDs and vinyls, paintings, different kind of food to buy/taste… And many other things. I spent probably an hour there just walking and checking what do they have on offer.

But as it was yet another quite windy day I decided to buy some wind proof jacket. Visited few shops but did not find anything (finally bought one day later). My cold was already at advanced phase ;(

But it was well spent day. I saw many new places, reminded already visited ones but (mostly due to cold) did not took any pictures.

Monday

I had an appointment with Andrew Wafaa so we met for lunch at the Oak Bistro. Discussed about misc things (like end of my job at Linaro) and at the end I gave him MicroSD adapter which does not stick out from Chromebook. He told me few hours later that it was a problem to get it back from people later during day ;)

After lunch I went to the Whipple Museum. Interesting exhibition. Models of human body, lot of scientific equipment from few centuries. Really worth visiting.

Day ended with visit at 40th Cambridge Beer Festival. I like how event was organized. “No glass, no service” means you can bring your own glass or pay 2.5GBP deposit for event one. There was wide choice of beers, ciders, perries (cider like make from pears), meads and wines. You could buy whole, half or third of pint (meads and wines were sold in 175ml portions) which made tasting easier.

Tuesday

I reserved that day for beer festival only. Leif took day off so we could spend it together there. The only problem was when on Monday’s evening I realized that we forgot to share any usable contact information but we managed to find each other at one of social networking websites.

So beer… I bought several ones and tried even more from local friends. In the official application I marked (random order):

  • Curious (bitter)
  • Summer Virgin (golden ale)
  • Nero (stout)
  • “Ruby… don’t take your beer to town” (dark mild)
  • Krasny Red (bitter, IPA style)
  • Pegasus (bitter)
  • Honeypot (speciality which I got rid to urinal after few sips)
  • Golden Kiwi (golden ale)
  • Bohemium Lager (lager)
  • Zulu (porter)

But there were also other ones and “Dark Mead” for the end of day. With thanks of Leif and Steve I found out what is a source of that strange taste I call “English beer taste” which I am not a fan of. According to Steve it is due to hops.

It was great day due to beer and people I met: Andy, Neil, Steve, Leif, Maria and others.

Wednesday

The last day in Cambridge. Went to Fitzwilliam museum to take a look at the art. And I have to admit that I prefer art from 18-19th centuries rather than modern one.

Eat lunch, packed bags and then went to Stansted airport. Funny moment at security gate where officer asked me about amount of cellphones in my bag. There were just two of them: Nexus 4 and Chinese E6 one (plus Kindle and Nexus 7 tablet). Probably it was just routine control ;D

And after around 9 hours I finally arrived at home…

Conclusion

It was good trip, I enjoyed every day of it (even with cold), managed to visit most of the places I planned to, met friends and spent time in other way than usually.

My UK trip — London

I was few times in London but always on business without time for sightseeing so decided to change it.

Day one

After few hours trip landed at London Gatwick airport. Some say that’s worst one of five but was not so bad. Why there? Because I could and I was on Stansted, Luton and Heathrow already (plan to use City one next time). Short trip to the city and hello Victoria station — long time no see

Bought Oyster card to use public transport in easiest way and took a metro train to hotel. Nothing fancy — just cheap (65£ per night) hotel without any extras (but with working free WiFi).

Unpacked only needed things and went to city centre. Victoria monument, Buckingham Palace, the Mall etc. More or less followed the most popular trip from the “Trip Advisor” application.

Went to Thames, crossed with one bridge, looked at London Eye (and decided to skip it) and then Big Ben and Westminster Abbey were next. I considered returning to the Abbey next day but later decided against it.

Grabbed some food and went to sleep early as it was 3rd day when I woke up around 5:00.

Day two

Thursday… Skipped Westminster Abbey and went by foot to the British Museum. Met Mark Brown on a way and we had good time looking at all those things which British Empire had stolen from all around the world. We didn’t managed to find Britain sections.

After lunch I went to the Forbidden Planet store. And sunk there for quite long time. Then got back to buy two more books. This place was amazing…

They had stuff related to movies, games, tv series – figurines, key chains, t-shirts, toys, rings/jewellery, helmets, weapons and other… Some from limited editions. But when I wondered “is that’s all?” I went to the basement. And sank.

Comics, books, movies, tv series, manga, anime, photo albums and more. Books about movies, books which movies were based on (and vice versa). “Darth Vader’s princess” and “Darth Vader and his son” were there (9£ each), “Simon’s cat” books which my daughter would love (so I bought one), lot of SF and fantasy books in nice editions (Asimov for example).

“Big book of butts” looked funny. Next one was “Big book of legs” next to “pin-up girls” and other photo/erotic ones.

Nice place to go to but I warn you – you can leave a lot of cash there and have problem packing…

Lack of Britain sections in museum made me go to their website to check floor plan. And back to the building to see few more exhibitions. When I finally found what was searching for they told us to leave :-(

But no need to be sad I thought cause I was going to meet long time no see friends at a pub not so far away. Went there, ordered some “organic lager” and sat down to wait for them. Few minutes later I had a chat with some guys around 60 years old about some random stuff. Good part were their recommendations which beer to try next. As you probably guess it was not lager but rather ale or something more English.

YaaL and Pornel arrived and we had nice chat about life, work etc. Time passed too fast :-( But it was good to meet after so many years.

Day three

This had to be no museums day. First I went to visit Canonical’s office as I have never been there…

Finding building was quite easy, then discussion with security took a bit more before they finally realised that I am on a visitors list already. Got tour of the office, looked at wall full of Ubuntu Touch interface mockups, discussed few of them with someone, made some coffee and left the building.

Next step was Tete Modern Art gallery. I spent few hours there watching all those sculptures, paintings and installations which were counted as art in previous century. Did not even tried to understand those…

Due to cold I got during previous days I went back to the hotel. But why stay there when there are so many places to visit and so little time?

So I decided to make use of longer opening hours at the British Museum and went there. This time managed to see Britain sections and European Medieval times ones. It was good evening.

Day four

As this was my last day in London I decided to not go far from the hotel. Checked out, left luggage and went on foot to the Science Museum.

Lovely place. Went quickly though Space exhibition (cause most of it I saw at Cape Canaveral already) but other ones were worth seeing. Age of Steam with all those engines and descriptions, vehicles like bikes (starting with “safety bicycle” by Rover), motorcycles, cars (including JET 1 powered by gas turbine) but also planes (with replica of Wright brothers one) and helicopters.

I enjoyed the “Materials” exhibition — especially body model with some artificial addons and long list next to it informing which materials can be used for which implants and other inserted parts.

There was also special exhibition about Alan Turing and his work.

After visit I went for food, took luggage from hotel and then the Underground to King’s Cross train station and went to Cambridge. But this will be next post.

Time to visit UK again?

I plan to visit London and Cambridge on 16-22 May. Just for sight-seeing and meeting friends — no business this time.

Plan is to meet old OpenedHand fellows, some old friends from Poland, maybe visit Canonical office just to see it (as I work for them for nearly 3 years). And of course see something cause I was few times in London but managed to see only train/metro stations and nearly nothing more.

Then Cambridge for 40th Cambridge Beer Festival. There are friends to meet as well and maybe see something as well (but here I saw far more things than in London).

As usual flights from/to Berlin to one of London airports (plan to return from Stansted as it is the easiest to get there from Cambridge). Need to sort out some places to stay.

Also have to check which UK prepaid is useful today. I need few gigabytes over HSPA — previously Giffgaff was fine for it for just 10 GBP but they have changed rules. Tethering required due to tablet and Chromebook (which I plan to get repaired or replaced).

Any suggestions for 3G or place to stay?

Revision 2013

This year I spent Easter in other way than in past years. Instead of staying with the family I went for demoscene party — Revision 2013 in Saarbrücken.

Please note (RSS readers mostly) that this post will contain many YouTube videos embedded. Please go to my blog to have them properly displayed (I use WordPress + Jetpack plugin to embed them).

Friday

Took us 12 hours to get there (mostly due to waiting on TXL and FRA airports) but we managed to be at party place around 19:00 on Friday. Registered, met friends and went to Kirchberg Hotel to drop bags.

Hotel has two stars but was perfectly fine for such trip as our. Clean bed, good breakfast, quiet place (except church bells at 10:00 on Sunday). All just ~2km from E-Werk where Revision took place.

Back to party, more people to meet, discuss a bit with guys from ARM Ltd about Samsung Chromebook, Cortex-A15, Mali etc. One guy joined with his Chromebook and recognized me when I asked “may I fry your speakers?” :D

Timetable listed one interesting thing: “Curio’s 2012 Essentials” which was ~1 hour long set of PC demos from previous year. It was nice as I was totally out of PC scene so was able to check how it looks.

Taxi to hotel was just 6€ ;D

Saturday

Attended “How to start writing compilers without a Ph.D” seminar as it sounded interesting to me. And it was ;) Video below:

Also had discussion with ARM guys about presenting not only technical demos (like Unreal Engine one) but also to show some demoscene productions. Soon “Beginnings” by Elude started on one of Nexus 10 tablets and was working nice. But coder who wrote it was not so happy about that when we discussed that later… I think that it would be a good thing for ARM Mali team to get some good demoscene groups to write demos for Android platform to amaze people with nice looking productions. ARM even had seminar for OpenGLES 3.0 API:

But Saturday was also full of competitions. Tracked music, oldskool music (read: 8-bit mostly), photo, animation/video, game, ascii/ansi, Amiga intros, PC 4K intros, Oldskool demos (8-bit, Atari STE, Amiga 500)…

There were many entries in compos where productions from long time no see groups/people were presented. For example in oldskool demo we got “RINK A DINK REDUX” from Lemon which was astonishing:

There were also demos for Amstrad CPC, MSX1, ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64 and other platforms. Oldskool music compo had even NES entry ;)

But it was also visible that demoscene is not full of amateurs like it was years ago. Some of videos in animation/video compo had professional level. “Lübeck 24x7x365″ took 50 days of recording but was really nice:

There was a concert in the evening… Ear plugs were not strong enough for me so I spent most of time outside talking with people. Next time need to take some better hearing protectors…

Sunday

As Saturday ended really late for us and competitions were planned for 13:00 we decided to not rush and stay in bed longer :) But at around 10:00 bells in local church started their music compo so we were not able to sleep anymore.

We got music, graphics, wild and of course PC 64K intro, web browser demo/intro, Amiga demo and PC demo competitions that day.

Graphics one was won by “Double Trouble by the Royal Forces” made by forcer & prince. Huge amount of details which was not so visible on big screen as it was on a tunnel’s wall where it was hanging as few square meters photo copy.

Wild compo… Man, that was something great. From productions made for Arduino (with some shields) though ARM Cortex-M3 one to interesting hack by Dexter/Abyss which shown one view on monochrome TV and second on oscilloscope while both were connected to Composite video signal only… See it for yourself (or grab separate entries from scene.org FTP server):

Then DJ set by h0ffman (skipped by me) and clue of party — Amiga and PC demos/intros. Different quality but most of them was really good — both from technical or design view (but not always from both at same time).

But as I am not a coder I looked mostly at design and audio/video part. All those names like ‘ray matching’ etc meant nothing to me so when someone tried to explain why demo which I did not like was so great I just told similar thing ;D

Monday

Wake up, breakfast, pack, pay, go to party place. We did not manage to get there before voting ended so not voted for PC demo compo entries. Greeted those who was still present, discussed a bit and then return trip… This time just ~9 hours but next time (if there will be such) we plan to go there by car. Less time needed.

Random stuff

I liked how party was organized — it was my first such event abroad and many people told me that Revision is the last demoscene party in old style. I really liked it. Saw many different platforms like MSX1, MSX2, C= VIC20, Amstrad CPC or Videoton…

Due to Easter time shops where closed on Sunday/Monday but it was not a problem for me as there was free coffee/tea, beer/water/orange juice was available to buy at low price (2.5€ for 0.5l beer) and there was hot food served all time (like 10:00 – midnight) also not so expensive.

Weather could be better as it was cold but at least there was no snow (which we still have here).

It was also nice to see Kiero at work as he was finishing “Machinist” Amiga demo on his x86-64 laptop with WinUAE running fullscreen. I was surprised that ASUS UL30A is capable to run it fast enough.

Amount of discussions with people is probably uncountable. Chromebook, ARM, Android, Amiga, scene were just subset of topics…

Will I go there next year? Will see…