10 Things to Know Before You Go To Beijing

Monday, August 4th, 2008

1. Learn Mandarin.

Even a little will go a long way. English is very uncommon here. All those tourist phrase books and Berlitz courses that did you absolutely no good in Europe because everyone spoke English? They actually help here. The most important phrase to know is “Boo-yao” which loosely translates as “No, I don’t want that cheap plastic souvenir/guide book/Rolex/Gucci bag you’re trying sell me, and I really mean it.”

JavaOne Hotels

Tuesday, April 17th, 2007

Recently I asked for advice about hotels for JavaOne, or really any conference held at the Moscone Center. Surprisingly although over the last ten years I’ve become intimately familiar with Silicon Valley and can tell you pretty much everything you need to know about the San Jose or Santa Clara convention centers and surrounding areas, I haven’t been to any shows at the Moscone Center for almost ten years. In fact, I think the last one would have been Software Development 99 West just before that show moved south to San Jose. For that trip I stayed at the Phoenix Inn, which is a reasonably cheap, clean, and funky hotel in the Tenderloin district. It was nice enough, if you didn’t mind a bit of a hike or a bus ride to the convention center in the morning. However, I thought JavaOne might be a little more intense so I decided I’d like to stay somewhere closer, and asked for advice. Here’s what I found out.

Garmin Mapsource: When You Just Don’t Care If the Software Works

Tuesday, January 31st, 2006

Friday I installed one of my Christmas presents, a complete set of 1:100000 scale topo maps of the U.S. for my Garmin eTrex Vista GPS receiver. I’d rather use the more detailed 1:25000 maps I bought from James Associates; and I’d rather use my Mac to load them onto the GPS unit; but Garmin won’t document the protocol for uploading maps; and that protocol doesn’t seem to have been effectively reverse engineered yet; so I had to boot Windows and load them from the PC using Garmin’s own MapSource.

Notes on the Santa Clara Convention Center/Hyatt Regency Santa Clara

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2005

After five plus years of staying way too often at this particular complex, I decided to put down some notes for fellow travelers who find themselves booked into this boring behemoth or nearby locations, situated in the middle of gorgeous suburban Santa Clara, home of office parks and strip malls. Believe it or not, there is culture here, but you need to know where to look to find it.