LA, and Beijing by night!

Linux Australia has been quite a focus for me this year, and I find myself getting more excited about the sweet things LA could do. Being in China ATM has been enormously frustrating as I have so much I want to get done for LA before the conference, and communication is sparodic at best when limited to internet cafes. I will definitely be trying for the committee again, and am keen to keep on as President. There is still so much to be done to ensure the organisation is what the community wants and needs. Communication is obviously a big part of that, and something Linux Australia is getting better at 🙂 So much to do! So little time in a day, and I keep having to tell myself I am over here studying and need to make sure I pass my exams 🙂

Gris, Li li and I decided we’d go to some markets and check out some Beijing night life. On the train into town there was an extremely tired gentleman who was luckily oblivious to our silliness. We grabbed dinner with Shannon at a great Beijing Noodles place, and then proceeded to an excellent bar. I’ve always been a fan of games, and this place had everything! A pool table, a 4-person foozball table, a huge mother connect 4 game, and a huge mother jenga game. A few skillful moves and then JENGA!

The Summer Palace

Li Li and I lit some candles for Hanukkah, and had a wonderful Peking Duck lunch for Christmas with about 35 other students and our wonderful teacher.. I got a present. It wasn’t a real Peking duck feast but it was fun 🙂

Gris arrived last night 🙂 While Li Li and I were waiting we tried a new place to eat. I ordered as part of my meal some hot milk. Big mistake. Got something that wasn’t very milk-like and during one mouthful, we found that it had lamb placenta in it. Wonderful…

We went to the Summer Palace today which was great! Especially the frozen lake which was solid and fun to stand on. Some people found it more scary than others. I’ve always had a love affair with temple dogs and chinese architecture so it was good fun.

CD underground…

I found the local IT hub and bought some kewl hardware. On the way back, we were approached by a woman asking if we wanted software. I want to get some of the local Linux distros so we went with her. After 1 minutes of walking, and going into a dodgy area that was like a dump in the middle of the city, she took us to a mud house, and ushered us inside, suitcases and boxes of cd’s were put in front of us, and of course we weren’t going to buy pirated software 😉 but it was a very strange experience.

The Chinese government has cracked down on piracy and the IT in Beijing is really going well. Looking forward to working here.

Beijing LUG, and other interesting people

Met up with a lovely man named Simon, and one of his friends Shannon to go to an IT networking session. Ended up bumping into the Beijing LUG President and a few other great people. We mosied over to a place called Da Shan Zi which was an industrial area converted into a very groovy artists area. Had a lovely dinner, some drinks and great conversation. I certainly have a lot more respect for Beijing now, so it is just a matter of convinceing Jeff 😉

The gang all wandered home about 12ish, and I’ll hopefully be doing a talk for the Beijing LUG on FOSS and Education.

Looks like we’ll be going to Shanghai this weekend, depending on train times. Grisel gets here about 10ish on Friday night, so hopefully it’ll be Gris, Li Li (Natalie’s new nickname) and I running around having fun 🙂

Went to the Great Wall and met some of the locals 🙂

Still don’t have any mouth issues. Looks like the Chinese dentist did an exceptional job.

Beijing Linux Community

I had my first taste of the local Linux Community. I have some contacts here but can’t get to my email and their contacts are there 🙁 Will figure something out, I have 4 weeks 🙂

Anyway, was down in a park, and met a kid using a laptop. He had a redhat sticker and was running windows, it turns out he has a dual boot system. When I showed an interest in the Linux stuff, he got all excited and started speaking so quickly I had trouble keeping up. He gave me a copy of Chinese Mandrake, and will be getting me a copy of Chinasoft, that I’ve heard so much about 🙂 I have some bootable debian CD’s that Mako made, and I’m going to give one to this kid and get him to distribute it 🙂 I’m hoping he knows of a LUG so that I can go to a meeting. Should be sweeeeet. Rock on!

Forbidden City.. by night!

So I went to pay the rest of the ba ya fees (teeth extraction) and returned to the Forbidden City to meet some friends, unfortunately I was an hour late due to traffic 🙂 so I wandered around the Forbidden City, or what was open of it in the evening. Such a magnificent place! Huge, and looming, enclosing and protective. Dragons gazing paternally over a city loved, the ages reaching out to brush your cheek. I love China!

On the way home, there was this old lady at the bottom of an escalator, she looked terrified! I stopped and asked her if she wanted help, and then helped her get on and off the escalator, she looked like she would cry. It turned out she had a bad foot and could barely walk. What a hero. It is easy to take for granted our systems in Australia, but in China if you are old, or disabled and without family, you are done for. No one will care. It is quite sad.

Stewart has done the membership database! Rock on Steart, to be released to the public in the coming days, but it rocks nevertheless 🙂 Nominations will be open at the same time, and we can finally get this boat on the water. Roll up for LA elections! 🙂

Went and bought some stuff today with Natalie, my roommate. She is pretty kewl and we are having fun wraking havoc in the quite dusty suburbs of Beijing! Had a full crowd this afternoon watching us and being amused with our Chinese. Lotsa fun.

Chinese Dentists

Monday: Arrive in China

Tuesday: Get a tooth ache, good ‘ole wisdom teeth. See the local university dentist and get a mouth wash. Resolve to not ever go back to said dentist. For 40 cents australian how much can you expect 🙂

Wednesday: Find a ‘foreigners’ dental clinic, pay a packet, and have two teeth removed. Initial fear, mother frantically begging me to return to Australia, local anaesthetic, pressure and “It’s a girl!”. Evidently my dentist has a sense of humour 🙂 A little more pressure and “It’s a boy, congratulations!” No pain, even after the local anaesthetic wears off. Rock on! and now I can get on with my studies and finally sleep a full night.

Mum! Stop stressing! Comments like “you could paralyse your face” are not helpful when I’m about to get some teeth removed in a foreign country 🙂

So much to do – LA and WSIS

I have about 50 business cards to go through and catalogue, as well as many people to write to. Unfortunately it looks like I’ll be restricted to an internet cafe, so floppy disk storage, here I come!

Stewart says the membership database is almost done. Going to announce on linux-aus soon, am a little disappointed we couldn’t get it done before now, as is people will only have 3 weeks to become members, and nominate people for the elections in January. I say three weeks because current constitution denotes that nominatinos close 7 days prior to the election. I feel so distant but will still be doing LA stuff from over here. I fly directly into Adelaide from China on the 14th. The AGM is on the 15th. I managed to convince the Chinese uni to let me do my end exam two days early (hopefully!) so as it I’m cutting it fine. They originally wanted me to do the exam on the 18th, which would have meant either not being able to go to LCA2004 at all, or dishing out for another ticket.

We set up imap access to my mail at home, but this has gone all screwy because we don’t have a permanent ADSL address, and so far I’ve only been able to get my mail about 50% of the time. Gar! I may try to get dial up from my room so I can work from my laptop.

Happy 18th Birthday to my dear sister for the 13th! (Yes I did remember on the day!) I can’t believe how quickly my siblings are growing up. I’m very proud of her 🙂

One other kewl thing from WSIS, I was speaking to a young guy from Sierre Leone. He was trying to get people to understand that the country is peaceful again, and we ended up getting around to discussing ICT. He said that not only does most of the country not have electricity, but there is a total of 1 telephone provider who can only support 22,000 lines. In a country of more than 15 million, this isn’t very useful. It seems he isn’t so interesting in trying to get computers into his country, but rather show the world that it is ready for development again. I offered to create a website for him, where he could put his information, and his eyes just lit up 🙂 He mentioned that it is the young people in his country that are making to difference and helping rebuild the country. It was quite an inspiration speaking to him. Will post the site when I set it up. There were many young people at WSIS, in varying capacities, it was great to see young people from countries such as India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Peru, Brazil, Cuba and many African countries stepping up and doing great things. I had one guy see Linux on my badge and start pumping my hand saying he was a big fan of Linux. It all only makes me more passionate about pushing FOSS in order to help entire countries (let alone businesses and individuals) become ICT autonomous, facilitate education, encourage equality (gender, religion, race, etc), facilitate people learning programming and other job skills, ensure government files are not controlled by a vendor, and to generally make things much better. As for us ‘developed’ countries, haven’t we got something to learn of the benefits of FOSS from these highly successful ‘developing’ countries?

Off to China we go..

The trip from Europe to China was fun. I discovered that Lufthansa, the German Airline doesn’t have a row 13. I found this quite funny, but my fellow passengers were obviously used to it 🙂

Flying over Europe ahs never been particularly interesting to me, but flying over Mongolia, phwoar! I landed in Beijing and proceeded to have a great conversation with the taxi driver, I’m not as bad as I thought 🙂

The only bad news thus far has been the onset of a wisdom tooth that could kill a bison. This tooth has half of my face numb, making it hard to eat, and impossible to sleep. I braved seeing a Chinese dentist today, and after 15 mins of listening to a drill sound on two other patients, and getting worked up to walk out, she saw me and prescribed a mouth wash to help with the pain. We’ll see how it goes, at least it wasn’t an extraction.

Back to $1 and $2 meals, for those who don’t know I lived in China for 6 months in 2000. In a small city called Zhengzhou, Henan, with _only_ 4 million people as the locals would say 🙂 It is wonderful to be back, and even better because my Chinese is better. Classes start on Thursday! Yay!

Big ‘kick-the-proprietary-ass’ session

One of the big presentations at WSIS was the OPEN SOURCE SOFTWARE: PROS AND CONS FROM A DEVELOPMENT PERSPECTIVE. It had a proprietary supporter dude being slammed by all the ‘developing country’ reps over why FOSS is more relevant to them. Reasons from Peru such as the information fo the government belonging to the people, and if it is controlled by a vendor then it is at risk. Really sweet stuff, check out the documentation, transcriptions, and audio/visual from all presentations over the coming weeks.