Heli is wet and miserable

That is all.

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How to Usenet

I used to link to a page containing this information on the team.dot website. I figure that I may as well post it here too, for reference.

Basically, if you don’t know what Usenet is, look here. This entry is just a short step-by-step guide to allow you to start downloading binaries.

So, the instructions:

  • download Grabit & install
  • download QuickPar & install
  • buy a newsgroup account
  • buy a premium Newzbin account
  • select all the files attached to the report or click the little download arrow in the search results for whatever you want to download
  • your browser will ask you what you want to do with a .nzb file, make grabit open it
  • after the download has finished, run any .par files that were included in the download to guarantee file integrity
  • be happy that you have (most likely) just pirated

It's raining

I’m too lazy to go to the gym today. Too lazy to go and re-join for the next month. Tomorrow, hopefully.

Phil left the hostel for a few days to travel around, then he’s leaving for good to continue his trip! It’s very sad. It’s also going to leave a lot more laundry work for us.

Teo is also running off. That means I don’t have to fight for my laptop any more. Especially now that Lucy has gone off with palmy to Barcelona. Yep, palmy came back to visit. Good times, as usual. He was very bruised after a week, but I’m not sure how.

So, new volunteers are coming but they’re not here yet. That means I’m doing 5 night shifts back-to-back and most mornings, too. It’s all good. Cheaper, somewhat.

It really doesn’t feel like it’s the middle of July. Doesn’t seem too different to March or April except that all the beds are full. It’s funny how we can have 36 people staying at this place but it never feels overly busy. Before I know it there’ll be snow on the ground again.

Fring is awesome. It lets me message and call for free/Skype prices on my phone over wi-fi, and seeing how most of this country has free hotspots, I barely have to pay anything to use my phone now! Elite.

Marika wants to rent her own apartment in Tartu. :D Yessssss. I hope she gets a good one.

I want an apartment of my own. I can live in a little box, easily, as long as I have decent Internet and a kitchen! Hmm. I’m going to go look now.

Awesome.

Three nifty things

Just a quick note on two things I find very useful and one thing that is potentially very useful:

  1. SkreemR Mp3 Search – great MP3 search engine, with direct links to files and plenty of other info.
  2. Video DownloadHelper – “The easy way to download Web videos from hundreds of YouTube-like sites.
    This works also for audio and picture galleries.” It’s terrific and even does batches!
  3. drop.io – “Drop.io enables you to create simple private exchange points called ‘drops.'” Free, anonymous and unregistered online file-sharing. Great if you want to swap some files and don’t want to use a chat program to transfer files.

That’s all.

Holy shit!

I never knew CTRL + backspace deleted the last word, nor that ALT + backspace undoes any deletion!

Ok, so maybe that’s an embarrassing thing to admit, but no one ever mentioned it before to me as far as I can recall.

Woohoo!

Knobguide: How to be a backpacker

Someone asked me earlier today about some tips for getting around Europe as a backpacker. Since I’ve been over here nearly a year, both as a backpacker and as a kid working in a hostel, I feel like I may have some extra insight as to what you need and what you don’t.

Note, this is intended for first timers who plan to basically go hostel hopping over warm weather.

So, here’s the quick and nasty of it:

What to bring

If you do it right, you can get by with an average sized travel pack. I bought a big 90 litre Macpac and while it’s great, it’s also so big it meant I took too much. Using a 60 or 70 litre pack should be plenty if you only take along the things you’ll actually use regularly, such as:

  • 5 t-shirts
  • 1 jumper or light jacket
  • 4-5 pairs of underwear
  • 1 pair of shorts
  • 1 pair of jeans or long pants
  • 1 decent pair of sneakers (or boots if you’re going to do some hiking)
  • 1 pair of thongs or sandals
  • 3 pairs of socks
  • 1 towel
  • toothbrush; toothpaste; 2 in 1 shampoo & conditioner; roll-on deodourant and shower gel
  • pocket mirror (try to find a thin plastic one)
  • pocket knife (it only has to come in useful once to be worth it)

Optional:

  • hair brush
  • speedos/board shorts/bikini
  • heavy/warm jacket (if you’re travelling in colder weather)
  • razors or an electric razor (they’re a bit heavier and take up more space, but are faster and you can use them whenever you please)

This is backpacking, not holidaying. You should be expecting (and prepared) to live like more of a grot than you normally would at home. That means recycling t-shirts and underwear for a few days at a time and not showering every day. It also means you shouldn’t expect to take great care of your hair. Only prissy girls take hairdryers with them (or really weird guys).

Don’t bother with a sleeping bag or sleeping sheet or any of that crap unless you’re actually intending to sleep in a tent occasionally. Most hostels can provide you with sheets if you want them, either for free or for a small fee. Personally I’ve never bothered using them. Sleeping on dirty mattresses is part of the fun. It’s good for your immune system, too.

Passport pouches and carriers are generally a waste of money. Just keep your passport and wallet in your pockets and be mindful of them. If you have pants with zippers on the pockets, even better. I used to carry around my valuables in a pair of cargo pants that had 6 zipped pockets and had no problems. If you’re a good clothes shopper, you should be able to find clothing that’s not only practical, but stylish. Just because you’re a dirty, smelly backpacker doesn’t mean you can’t at least look nice.

It’s a good idea to use a day pack, either separate or adjoined to your travel pack. They let you carry around whatever you may want during your sightseeing and day-to-day stuff, such as your camera, MP3 player, maps and whatever else. They’re also a good place to keep your pocket knife and other gadgets, especially if you don’t have many pockets in your pants or jacket.

Resources

You’re thinking Lonely Planet, or something like it, right? Wrong. Fuck them. They’re typically out of date or full of bad information. Most of the opinions in them on accommodation paint hostels in certain lights based off one experience and don’t always have the best ones listed. Sure, they’re good books if you want to read a bit on the history of where you’re visiting, what local phrases to use and what’s worth seeing. That’s great, except if you’re doing more than one or two countries you’ll either need a book for each place or a big fat regional edition which only has tidbits of information on where you are.

If you really want to learn about where you’re going or where you are, it’s easier to just read tourist information pamphlets, brochures and signs. You can even ask staff in the hostels you stay in because they’ll know what most people want to see when they visit, plus they probably know the cool local places to explore and check out that you won’t find in guidebooks.

Another option is to read about it on the web. Wikitravel and Wikipedia should have most of the general information that you could ever imagine, while tourism websites for cities and countries are only a Google search away and can provide you with any other specific details you were wondering about.

Beds and planes

For flying around, all you really need to use is SkyScanner. They take away almost all the hassle of finding cheap flights around Europe. Use them.

If you want to book hostels online, which is recommended if you don’t want to run around looking for a bed when you arrive (although it can be really fun and you might find a brand new, cool place that isn’t even listed on the Internet yet, during the summer months places are almost always full), there are two real options.

Hostelworld has a bastard of an interface, is horrible to administer from the backend for hostel staff and they also charge you a booking fee, but it’s also the largest hostel website and lists virtually everyone. Another interesting thing about Hostelworld is that most of the other, smaller hostel booking websites are actually run through the Hostelworld network, so any bookings made by them actually function as bookings made through Hostelworld.

Hostelbookers is a nicer, slicker website, is much nicer to run from an administrative point of view and doesn’t charge a booking fee; however, it isn’t as widely used.

Other hostel booking sites are either (as previously mentioned) run through Hostelworld, aren’t as popular and thus have less hostels listed and even less reviews.

That should be enough for now. If I think of more I’ll make a second edition, or something.

Hairy times

I’m coping pretty well looking after this place on my own. The delicate balance of the bed sheets system got toppled over when some uninitiated took charge for a day and a half, but I’m restoring equilibrium.

Yesterday I went out on a splurge and bought myself a little mini headset, cheap webcam (which uses 300 MB of disk space to install its drivers, thanks to Logitech), PC/PS2 compatible game pad and a mouse pad. I’m pretty decked out now, in a real backpacker sense… :/

The light bulb in my bedroom has gone on the blink. It’s either the light bulb or the little clicker that lights it. This building used to be an office before they converted it into a hostel so it’s full of those big bright lightsaber type bulbs. When they’re all turned on it’s like sitting in a 7-11. Anyway, my one’s on the fritz which is ironic since it’d be really good lighting for this webcam. Instead I’ve had to turn on a crappy little lamp in one corner of the room. This is the result:

redknob long hair

So there we have it. That image looks a great deal better because I touched up all the lighting in Picasa. It’s such a handy program for that kind of crap.

I need to take a shower, I smell like a sweaty man that hasn’t showered in too long. A sweaty man with wild hair. I should get a job in the circus.