Time to Move

I feel that it is almost time to move to a new country again. It feels like both Helen and I could use a new country to live in and new experiences to have. Helen is excited about moving to Paris. I like the idea of Amsterdam. We have some travel planned for this year, so let’s see what happens towards the end of the year.

Important Information

A life-lesson I learnt when I lost my notebook and passport whilst travelling several years ago, was to ensure I have access to all my important information like all passwords, passport numbers, important phone numbers, etc even if I lose my technology. For me this means keeping an encrypted file of my passwords on Dropbox. The file can be decrypted with OpenPGP that can be downloaded from the internet. Important phone numbers should be printed on a card somewhere, maybe with the phone numbers obfuscated so that if someone steals it, the phone number isn’t easily identifiable.

The alternative to keeping an encrypted file with your passwords, is to use an algorithm to generate them. If you base your encryption key on the website name, and then have your own algorithm for generating a password from the key (in a non-obvious way), then it is easy to recover each password just by following the algorithm.

Wifi at the Cafe

So what’s going on when we connect to Wifi at the local cafe? We take out our notebook and connect to the Wifi, and then when we try and access a URL, we get an intermediate page instead. The page is maybe asking for a password, or for us to put in our email, and acts as a gatekeeper to the online world. Note that not all places do that – this post is about those that to intermediate access.

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iPad as a Second Screen

As a developer, I spend most of my day on my MacBook Pro. Unfortunately when I am out and about, I really notice the lack of screen real-estate, especially when I am doing web development or working in XCode. I have started using my iPad as a second monitor, using the “Duet Display” software. The iPad app is about £10 on the AppStore, and the Mac Software is a free download. You need to use a USB to Lightning cable to connect the iPad to the MacBook, which makes for a nice and fast display. It also means that I carry around a little stand for my iPad. The setup works well though, and makes a big difference to my development productivity when I’m on the road.

No Bag Travel

I’ve been reading a bit about No Bag Travel. This is travelling around the World without using any bags at all. In fact, the list of rules posted by Rolf Potts (the most famous proponent of this method of travel) is:

  1. No bags on the journey
  2. Borrowing items from locals is permitted
  3. Buying items along the way is permitted.
  4. Mailing items to oneself is not permitted.

These rules seem too limiting to me, and very arbirary. I prefer the “ultra-light” travel approach – travelling with as little as possible, but still have a day pack, or some kind of bag I can walk around with.

Hotel Room Automation

I’m starting to put in Home Automation software in my flat, but I would also like to use a mobile version of the platform while I am travelling. I am thinking of a Raspberry Pi or Pi Zero running Home Assistant that is connected to a local media centre and potentially a few small sensors. Something that can just do basic security for me, and some general automation tasks. I will have to experiment with this idea!

Business Class Upgrades

There have been a couple of posts recently about how to get free upgrades to Business Class. The first was entitled “The two words that will get you an airline upgrade over the phone“. The second was “Two words that will NOT guarantee flight upgrades”. I’ve only got one free upgrade to Business Class, and that was totally out of the blue. I presume the plane was full and we were selected because of our Frequent Flyer Miles. The other times I have upgraded, I’ve done it at the airport, before the flight, and I’ve paid for it. Sometimes you can buy an upgrade to Business Class quite cheaply.

Henley Passport Index

The Henley Passport Index rates all the different countries’ passports based on visa-free travel. From their website “With the Henley Passport Index, you can assess where you lie on the spectrum of global mobility and discover how to maximize your travel freedom through citizenship-by-investment”. Japan and Singapore are currently top of the list.

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Zurich to London by bus

Today I met a guy who travelled to the conference I was at by bus – only he’d come over from Zurich! He travelled overnight, and said that he was able to sleep on the bus, so he felt absolutely fine. He decided to come to the conference at last minute, so the bus was the most stress-free way of getting over. Apparently the trip cost less than £20! Sometimes I forget about these alternative methods of travel to/from Europe!