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Winter?

palm-tree

It's 21 degrees centigrade today, a fantastic blue sky and what you see in the picture is the view just from the door where I am staying ... :) Sorry, I couldn't just not mention it.

July 28, 2004 in Travel | Permalink | Comments (2)

Phones ...

Apart from the quest for a good, reliable, cheap, fast, coffee making ADSL connection, we are also looking at mobile phones and network providers. We visited the stores of 3, Optus, Telstra and Vodafone. Nothing really stands out since I want to have the best possible roaming possibilities and only Vodafone can really offer something good on that side but I haven't got a good feeling from the people on the shop, they were not really "convincing" and it seems to be an expensive provider. The family from Danielle recommended Orange since they already have a plan for it but we couldn't find their store at the mall. We will look a bit more since on the site of Orange I could see a link to 3 and it seems like Orange only provides CDMA and not GSM (which would allow me to use my phone overseas if the company has a roaming partner).

I still have to look more into this.

July 26, 2004 in Geek Stuff | Permalink | Comments (5)

Australia through the eyes of a new immigrant (part 1)

I've read recently that roughly 40% of the 19 million Australians (or one of their parents) were born overseas, and only 2% are aborigines, the descendants of its original indigenous people. So, statistically, I fit quite well, almost half the population is "on the same boat" as me. This was my first concern, would I be able to be "part of Australia" or would I stand out immediately as a foreigner. I guess that coming here and witnessing the diversity already answered my first question.

Getting to Sydney coming from Amsterdam is not such a culture shock as you would expect, because Amsterdam is also a very cosmopolitan town, with thousands of tourists and foreigners (wondering with a lost look in their eyes through the city of sin :-) ). Sydney has a very diverse population with a high percentage of greek and asian immigrants, something quite different from what I was used to in Buenos Aires, in particular the asian immigration and cultural influence. Both last year and now, I walked through Chinatown, which is an experience in itself and had different sorts of asian food (Yum Cha, Sushi train, Teppan-yaki, Korean, etc) and every time I am in awe with how different it is. The shops and food displays are something out of this world. All the windows with all sort of ideograms written on them (I can only assume that some are japanese, others chinese, etc).

Before coming here, I was subjected to several months of constant "Australia is the best country in the world" brain-washing-sessions. I was here last year, during october and november (coincidentally it was the Rugby World Cup at the same time, which made the whole stay even more interesting) and I couldn't deny the fact that the landscapes of this country are outstanding. What I couldn't yet assess was if I would fit in, if I would be able to actually live here. Well, now it's time to try that theory, right?

July 25, 2004 in Australia | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wollongong

Today, in a miracle act, Danielle and I woke up at 7.30 a.m. and we headed of to Wollongong, a mere 85 km south of Sydney. We went there with Danielle's parents. I wish we took the camera because the area there is just amazing. We have already decided to go back soon with our camera gear (when we get it out of customs of course) and spend a bit more time over there.

We first went more on the headland side, to have a look at some land. It was really beautiful, with a nice fresh weather and a very light rain, it was really pleasant. I complained all the time about the weather in Amsterdam but the rain here feels different and I actually enjoyed it very much. The smell in the bush is very different from what you get in a city or in The Netherlands, it's more "wild", I don't really know how to describe it otherwise. We spent a few hours wandering around there, it's such a beautiful location.

We were getting hungry, so for lunch, we left the land and went to the coast, to Port Kembla, which is mainly an industrial area, with a very large steel factory and older remains of a copper factory. Also a large commercial harbour and to the south of all that, a magnificent beach that goes for at least 1 km, a beautiful spot ... especially after having passed through all those factories and smoke stacks and massive industrial complex.

After doing a bit of "touring around" we came back to Sydney. It was indeed a very nice day. I am starting to discover different places around Sydney, and I am trying to relate a bit through this blog of "how I perceive Sydney and Australia through the eyes of a new immigrant". It's not easy when you forget to take your camera several times in a row, but I will make an effort and try to convey more of our experiences with images.

July 24, 2004 in Travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

Open wireless

In the last two weeks in Amsterdam, we found out that somewhere in the neightborhood there was an open WiFi access point and -of course- we were using it :)

This morning, when I powered up my laptop and scanned the WiFi ether, I found another one ... This is what I am using ... Pretty cool!

The only thing that I am a bit concerned here is that ADSL is not as widespread as in Holland and the speed you get is really not the same. In Amsterdam, through XS4ALL I was getting 4Mbps/512Kbps ADSL, the fastest it seems to be possible to get here is 1.5Mbps/512Kbps ... All of them also quite expensive in comparison. I have been spoiled badly with the nice technological advances. But fear not, I will find a good connection and I will use it, of course, after we spend two months walking in the middle of nowhere! :)

July 22, 2004 in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (4)

What a beautiful day

(I have posted this to our common blog as well, but I need to put it here too)

We've made it! We are in Sydney.

Sunshine and a great 17 degrees received us in a fantastic wednesday in this great city! We arrived last night at around 7 p.m. and Danielle's parents picked us up from the airport. The journey was good, a bit long but the service from Qantas was great, we really can't complain. The flight was full but not too many screaming babies or old senil ladies. We even got to have a shower at Singapore's aiport, that was great! Starting the last leg of the flight fresh, almost like if it was the only flight we had.

After a good night sleep, we walked to Tamarama and enjoyed the fantastic surf (in Bondi, we saw dozens of people surfing). The sky is blue, the weather's great, this city is fantastic and ... NO SPIDERS!!! Woohooooo! (it's too cold for the spiders apparently, not for me though).

I can't tell you how happy I am. It's still a bit strange, I can't really realize that I am in Australia and that this is my home now, that I will be living here for a while and that I am not a tourist here anymore. This is a great feeling and I really wish some of my friends could experience it.

Just for the teasing: the winter here is indeed nicer than summer in Amsterdam!

July 21, 2004 in Travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

what were the nuremberg trials?

::" They were a series of 13 trials of accused World War II German war criminals held from 1945 to 1949 in Nuremberg, Germany. The first trial, the International Military Tribunal (IMT), was prosecuted by the four Allied powers against the top leadership of the Nazi regime in 1945-1946. The other twelve trials were prosecuted by the United States in the Nuremberg Military Tribunals (NMT) from 1946 to 1949, against a variety of governmental, military, industrial, and professional leaders."

I commend Harvard Law School Library for undertaking the Nuremberg Trials Project, an attempt to digitize and free make available approximately one million pages of documents relating to the Nuremberg Trials.

Thanks to Tatler for this post.

July 16, 2004 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Last day at work

Today (friday) is my last day at work. I have been working here for more than 4 years and it's sad to go but new adventures await and new places are ready to be discovered.

I learned a lot working here, about environmental issues, about working in large distributed teams, about people working with passion and engaged. It was overall a very good experience. It's difficult to move on but it needs to be done. When you feel like your time at one place is over, then you should move on and do something new. At least that's how I feel today. I feel happy and sorry but the prospect of migrating to Australia on monday is keeping me distracted :)

I guess I will be mainly talking about Australia through the eyes of a new immigrant and that's going to be fantastic and new.

Update 17:50hs: Ok, I have finished working, now it's time to get downstairs to the infamous bar and have a few beers and celebrate with my friends and colleagues!

July 16, 2004 in Work | Permalink | Comments (2)

Best digital camera for trip?

I have started looking at the gear I would like to take for the Bibbulmun Track and one of the essencial items that we will take is a digital camera, of course. But what camera? What to choose? What are the criterias that I should be looking at? SLR versus self-contained? Why not film?

Of the things we need to consider for a camera for such a long trip, I think the weight and size are the most important ones. That's why I will not be thinking at this stage to take something like the Canon EOS 1Ds, it's around 1.5 kg just for the camera with batteries, then you have to add the weight of the lenses and also, I wouldn't like to be carrying a 8000 euro camera on a walking treck of 2 months. So, if weight and size are an issue, you could consider going for something smaller (still in the SLR field) more like a Canon EOS 10D or Canon EOS 300D (also known as Digital Rebel). They both have the same CMOS sensor but the 300D has a lighter and cheaper finished plastic body instead of the alloy that makes the 10D a more sturdy looking camera. All the reviews that I looked at report that the 300D is a very good camera and the sensor from both camera has received very good reviews. I am currently thinking on an SLR more than one of those new digicams mainly because of image quality. I am trying to find out if I can justify having to carry the camera and one lens instead of just one integrated camera, like the Minolta DiMAGE A2 or actually it's better to have a camera that has less quality in the image and is easier to carry around.

So far my idea was to take a lower quality camera and use that to take pictures that would serve as guidelines to the places we will be visiting and to remind us of the great locations. Then, next year, take a car and drive to those places in spring 2005 and with the whole camera parafernalia (medium format, a good digital SLR, tripods, etc) then spend a few weeks only taking pictures without having to carry all the gear on our backs for 2 months. But I am not sure that the results will be good enough and then we will have to wait for one year to go back and find the same places at around the same time of the year and maybe next spring is more rainy, etc etc.

When Don was over in Amsterdam around Queen's day this year, he brough his new 10D and I was impressed by the quality of the pictures and how small the camera is in comparison with my Canon EOS 1V-HS.

So, in the end it might be that a good EOS 10D is the right choice, even though it's around 500 euros more expensive than the 300D. With that camera we might have pictures that we can then put in some exhibition down in Bondi when we come back. I am not in the pixel counter crowd and I don't think that the more pixels is necessarily the better, I am interested in the best quality I can get.

Of course, so far I have only be referring to digital cameras and not film cameras. Some time ago I was having these arguments with Danielle "digital vs film" and, I have to admit, she won me over. I have been falling in love with the quality that you can get out of the professional digital SLRs and the simplicity of the process from the image to the print. Well, again, this is relative, I could probably spend hours and hours working on a picture to get the right print but if you are not picky, then it's almost instantaneous. The prospect of having to carry 50 or more rolls of good slide film over 2 months is a bit daunting, I see it easier to have a few flash cards and when we get into some town with an internet cafe, we burn the RAW files on a CD, send it home via the post and carry on. It's easier than finding good labs which have been keeping the slide film refrigerated (which I won't be while walking). I already have film cameras and they are not light, my EOS 1V-HS is quite heavy and I can't even start to talk about my Rollei 6008i.

So, my conclusion is still uncertain. I am quite convinced that I won't take a film camera on the walk. I am sure that I want the best quality and transportability combination. I am not sure what camera I want. :)

July 16, 2004 in Travel | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Great site about the bibbulmun

Lazy saturday afternoon (after all, we just walked around, bought some strange costumes and had lots of coffees) and I was surfing the net using this excellent wireless connection which comes from somewhere in the neighborhood (free internet, excellent), I found the great site from John Chapman where he describes his experience on the Bibbulmun. Great stuff. He says that this track is not his favorite one but still worth doing. Since we haven't done it yet, we are still full of all the energy and passion that we initially had!

July 11, 2004 in Travel | Permalink | Comments (1)