Archive for June, 2007
An authentic Japanese bento is the last thing I expected to find in Natick.
Following a seminar about the crazy healthcare reform laws that have befallen Massaschusetts, we decided to stop by Oga’s in Natick to see what the rest of the Boston Japanese community was raving about. Wow, we weren’t disappointed.
Though Oga’s looks pricey for dinner, a formal (read: “fancy-ish”) bento box lunch was only about $12. I had a fairly good tonkatsu pork bento (complete with cabbage and sauce), and Miho a really spectacular sushi box lunch.
Oga’s can be a bit far out of Boston on the highway, but worth the trip. Best bento I’ve ever had in the US.
Speech impediment as the perfect FTP client.
FTP-wise I’ve tried a handful of apps over the last three or four years. I’d settled on SmartFTP for most of the heavy lifting, though it does have a lot of cruft I don’t need and I really loathe its weirdo “address – username” pulldown with accompanying incomprehensible dialog boxes.
FileZilla is promising, but kept startling me with random stability quirks. Likewise checked out CoreFTP “Lite”, which has a really great view-toggle feature going on, as well as an incessant per-directory-click-activated beep which, I suppose, is designed to encourage full version purchasing or else irritating beep-induced madness.
WebDrive was a favorite for quite awhile, though has also proven to be unstable when asked to cooperate with Vista. Plus, WebDrive can be overkill when you just want to quickly pop a file through the ether and be done with it.
FFFTP is cruftless and light and includes the better features of more “advanced” FTP clients; specifically firewall jockeying and even auto Japanese encoding conversion. Nice.
This has been bugging me for years and I finally got around to looking up a solution.
Everyone knows that Emacs is the greatest editor on the planet, superior in all ways to vi. Unfortunately, Emacs has this nasty habit of tossing tilde-terminated backup files around whatever directory in which you happen to be editing. Not only does this clutter up the file system, it can also be something of a security risk; especially if you’re working on web servers. And really, snapshots of your most recent save is not so useful if, like me, you pathologically
ctrl-x ctrl-s your code every few characters or so.
After a bit of hunting I discovered that Emacs’ built-in versioning could solve both of these problems. Cons the following two commands into your local .emacs:
;; Enable versioning with default values.
(setq version-control t)
;; Save all backup file into the designated directory.
(setq backup-directory-alist (quote ((".*" . "~/.emacs.d/backups/"))))
and not only will Emacs remember all saves:
$ ls .emacs.d/backups/
but, as you see, it also tucks your backups safely out of harm’s way.
Though it appears to have been hurled around by the Samsonite gorillas.
Now that I’m here in Chennai, BA staff are explaining that there was a luggage conveyor breakdown. Interesting that no one would admit to this while I was in London.
Me: Can you tell me where my luggage is?
Agent (cagily): It is being… transfered.
Me: Yes, but, what does that mean. Where is it now?
Agent (cagily++): It is in… the airport, sir. Being… transfered.
Me: Yes, but.. Will it make the flight?
Agent (now mysterious and/or typing furiously): Signs point to yes. Outlook good. You may rely on it.
I had this conversation at least four times and gave up whenever the agent went into Magic Eight Ball mode.
I’d seen this one OEM’ed as various brands recently. A similar Japanese device years I’d purchased years ago finally went AWOL so I picked one up during my copious hanging-around time in Heathrow.
I’ve got to say, this is a terrific little gadget. My previous adapter, which was basically an plastic-coated, spring-loaded wire pick — very ominous-looking — used to spark threateningly whenever I jammed into a socket.
This little adapter is a nicely self-contained collection of prongs that fit perfectly into whatever outlet is available. No more fear of electrical fires. This cost me about 25 pounds I believe.
Highly recommended, though difficult to find online. I see you can pick one up from UK Amazon and a variety of smaller online shops.
This site is only partially about body massage. Note to self: Avoid space-suited androids if trapped in a burning house.
or Screwed by Flying Virgin
Okay, this is the second time this has happened to me, so I think it needs a blog entry.
Lately it’s possible to book cheap, complex routes on multiple airline carriers thanks to the magic of the internet and fear — good old fashioned fear — of insolvency.
This may at first seem like a godsend to the would-be international vagabond; that is until you actually try to take one of these flights. While Orbitz may know each carrier’s routes and be able to plan out the perfect budget ticket for you, it doesn’t take into account exceptions. If something goes wrong, such as, say, a twenty minute flight delay, be prepared to scramble.
For example, last week I booked a cheap round-trip ticket from Boston to Chennai, India via London and Mumbai. Had it worked, this would have been a team effort between American Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, and (greatest airline in the world) Indian carrier Jet Airways. Twenty-three hours of flight time is a little longer than I had hoped for, but a deal for the $1,500 price tag.
Five hours into the tip I knew I was in trouble. We were going to be twenty minutes late into Heathrow. If you’ve ever been to Heathrow, you know that every second counts: Navigating inscrutable tunnels filled with random checkpoints and the occasional train takes time.
I emerged blinking from the gangway, eyes darting about and ready to sprint off into the labyrinth. When suddenly, not twenty feet down the terminal corridor, I spotted my connecting flight, Virgin Atlantic Airways 350, accepting the last of its passengers. I had thirty minutes to spare.
Smugly I sauntered over to the gate and presented my official Orbitz itinerary with a slight flourish. Ah, the magic of the internet. Who needs a ticket when you have an e-ticket, right? Yeah. Well, actually since this is the second time this has happened to me, I wasn’t all that surprised for what came next.
Frowning intently at my official draft-quality Orbitz printout, the gate security guard disappeared behind a barrier to return with kindly Virgin staff who explained, sympathetically, that I was pretty much screwed. Though I had a an e-ticket, and though — just down the gangway — my paid-for seat was available, Virgin policy required that I first pass through the transfer desk, requiring at least a twenty minute trek deep into the Heathrow labyrinth via checkpoints, scanners, trains, minotaur, and who knows what else. I was, it seems, to spend a night in London.
So, off I went to the transfer desk. Of course, by the time I arrived (10 pm), the American Airlines desk was deserted. Emergency hyperactive backup staff at the late night Virgin desk explained that I would have to book my own accommodations and request reimbursement from American. They also recommended that I transfer my luggage to the next Virgin flight rather than picking it up at Heathrow at such a late hour. Reasonable enough I suppose.
To make a long story short, I am now here in Chennai, following a $500 stay in the luxurious Heathrow Hilton and a completely different flight on British Airways, sans luggage. And, yes, I have learned my lesson.