Saturday Dec 13, 2008

A Wonderful Winter Day

In Spaceballs, there's this wonderful scene involving Mega Maid, a giant Statue of Liberty themed robot, who wields a vacuum cleaner in an attempt to suck-off Planet Druidia's atmosphere.

Well, it seems like she visited Beijing last night.

The fog is gone, leaving a wonderfully brilliant blue sky. What a drastic and welcomed change from the cotton-ball days of the past week.

I do so hope this weather continues.

Sunday Oct 26, 2008

A Tale of Four Lands

I flew back home last night into a resplendent and fairly empty Terminal Three. I'd only been gone for a week, and had a wonderful time traveling, but it was good to be back onto familiar ground.

Real relaxation came when I climbed into front passenger seat the taxicab. On the right hand side, just where it should be. The musty smell of cigarettes, the cold November wind coming in through the half-open windows, the twang of a Beijing accent as the cabby and I quickly went through most of the conversational Mandarin I knew.

Hong Kong, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, Hong Kong, and then back to Mainland China. Each entry or debarkation (including the ferries between Hong Kong and Macau) requiring a customs sheet... a total of 12 stamps in my passport; three pages used.

I'm going to work more on this blog entry later, and do some back-filling as well. In the meantime, here are some of the photos I took over the last week:

http://flickr.com/photos/robesoh/sets/72157608200746094/

Saturday Oct 18, 2008

An Accidental Traveler

I have a tendency to be an accidental traveler... booking rooms and flights way too late, packing at the last possible moment, forgetting stuff at home and the various places I stayed along the way. In short, the total opposite of William Hurt's character in The Accidental Tourist.

In an effort to change this behavior (or, more accurately, not change it), I've taken to just copying the flight information and hotel accommodations of colleagues going to the same destinations.

So, when I heard that Laup (his name brilliantly obfuscated to protect his identity) was going to be making side-trips to Macao and Hong Kong on his way back from the Intel Developer Forum in Taipei, I figured I'd just copy his information and be set.

Well, what I didn't notice was that Alup was going to Taiwan two days earlier to spend time with family. And, not staying in hotels. And, traveling far outside of Taipei.

When Plua told me this after I had my tickets booked, and faced with the very real possibility of having to be actively involved in arranging my own travel, I did what any truly accidental traveler would do... I asked to come along.So, anyway, being the kind, decent, and (hopefully) forgiving person that he is, Pual said sure. He called his in-laws who setup a hotel room for me in Zouying, his sister who setup a guest house for me at her research institute at Tainan, and we were ready to travel.

After arriving in Taipei, we took the Taiwan High Speed Rail (HSR) to Zouying:

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Where we had a wonderful time with the family. (Notice that I said "the" versus "his"... our, more accurately his wife's... since I've now adopted myself into the family unit.)

Here are a couple shots of us:

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See, betcha cannot tell me from the rest of the crew.

Okay, time for bed... more tomorrow...

Sunday Oct 12, 2008

OpenSolaris Test Farm in Beijing

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The equipment pictured on the left is part of a pilot Open Lab project here at the Sun China Engineering and Research Institute (ERI). The team is experimenting with is a lab of equipment totally accessible to the outside network. Previous labs have been setup with internal (or SWAN) access. This has presented many security issues when trying to also share equipment with an outside network.

Much of this equipment will be available for free use as part of the OpenSolaris Test Farm initiative, which will be officially launched shortly. Some of the other equipment is available to Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) to test their offerings with OpenSolaris. Still more is made available to our partners for file transfers, netinstalls, and other uses.

Being involved with projects such as this is one of the very gratifying things about working at ERI.

PS... we'll be demonstrating the OpenSolaris Test Farm at the upcoming Intel Developer Forum in Taipei October 20th and 21st. Be sure to come by the booth if you're at the event!

Thursday Oct 09, 2008

cooking@robs' 09OCT08

Photos of tonight's meal.

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Monday Oct 06, 2008

Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications

I had the great pleasure of speaking with Jim Grisanzio at the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications right before we went on Golden Week Holiday.

See Jim's post here for pictures and info about the night:

  http://blogs.sun.com/jimgris/entry/beijing_university_of_posts_and

It was truly a blast. And, it was made even more special for me since Zhang Wenzhi, who was recently an intern in the lab group here at ERI, was in charge of the event.

I look forward to doing more such talks.

Shoeless in Beijing

I was working@home a couple of Fridays back, and took Leo out for a late morning walk. Somewhere around 10:30 or so. Was wearing a t-shirt, shorts, and my pair of crocs.

I brought him into the apartment, put down my wallet and keys on the counter, took of my shoes, and unhooked him from his chain. The routine is usually that I say "chair", he jumps up onto one, I clean his paws, give him a treat, and then I go back to working in the office.

Well, on this particular Friday, he decided it would be nice to visit my neighbor instead of going up on the chair. So, he ran out my open door, and into my neighbor's apartment (I've seen that many folks in Beijing leave their apartment doors open during the summer... good for airflow and really not that much crime to be concerned about). I followed him in laughing and apologizing (my neighbors are kinda used to this by now... they take care of Leo when I'm not in town and \*love\* him).

Just before we managed to corral him, I heard the slam of my apartment door closing. Or, more precisely, the slam of my apartment five-locks-immediately-engaged-good-luck-breaking-in-if-you've-forgotten-your-keys-inside door close.

So, there I was, shoeless, keyless, and mobile-phone-less, with only a t-shirt, shorts, and Leo to my name. And, I'm not going to even get into my horrible understanding of Chinese. Oh, to make matters more fun, I had a meeting at work scheduled about an hour later.

Anyways, a very nice (South) Korean-owned pet store had opened recently in the downstairs of my apartment building. I've found that most South Korean shop owners tend to be trilingual... Chinese, Korean, and English. Leo was due for a wash, so I dropped him off there. One problem down...

Alrighty, I paced around a bit and thought about the next step. I mean, I could do the Amy Winehouse thing and walk into work. A thirty-minute barefoot jaunt wouldn't bother me that much. And, well, folks already look at me strangely sometimes anyway. The only thing that gave me pause was inside of the building. And, geez, having to pound on the door of the building to get someone's attention so they could let me in. Nope, that wouldn't be fun.

I returned to the pet shop, explained as best as I could about what happened, and asked if I could borrow a few RMB to buy some slippers. Instead, they were kind enough to give me those owned by the co-owner of the shop. A little tight, but definitely wearable. Many, many, many thanks.

So, to make an already way too long story short, I walked to work, got into the office, called a friend who had a spare key, finished my meetings, walked home, got Leo, and that was that.

Saturday Oct 04, 2008

Shoes and Keys

When I needed a duplicate key made back in the States, I'd usually head down to Orchard Supply Hardware or a local locksmith. Not so in Beijing. Having duplicate keys made here is usually another service provided by sidewalk tradespeople. Turning right out of my complex is woman I blogged about previously who does sewing and key duplication.

And, to the left, are a couple who repair shoes in addition to providing this service.

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Wednesday Oct 01, 2008

cooking@robs' 02OCT08

Photos of tonight's meal.

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Tuesday Sep 30, 2008

cooking@robs' 30SEP08

To say that I am challenged in the kitchen would be both overly polite and a gross understatement. I can count on one hand the number of times I've used the microwave oven in my apartment. I don't think I've ever turned on the gas stove except to light the very rare cigar. My mom is a great cook. My grandmothers were as well. So, it's not that I wasn't exposed to it. Just never stuck.

I mean, I'm not as bad as an unnamed brother who once put a unopened cans of beans on a lit burner, but pretty damn close. (If you have to ask about why this was a bad idea or guess about what happened to said can, you probably don't belong in the kitchen, either.)

I was complaining about my plight a couple weeks back to a co-worker. Who, feeling immense pity for me and knowing the importance of having food cooked at home, made me an offer I just couldn't refuse... she said be glad to check with her ā yí (cook/maid) and see if she'd be willing to come over to my place a couple times a week to cook dinner.

In any event, I now have dinners cooked at my house on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I'm also trying to be home so I can look over the ā yí's shoulder in an attempt to learn something about the culinary arts.

As long as the dishes are unique, I'll be taking photographs and posting them on my blog. Please feel free to leave comments about the dishes. (Of course, white rice is served with each meal.)

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番茄炒蛋(fried tomato and eggs)

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木须肉(fried cucumber, pork and agaric)

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