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10 Feb 2015

NeverWet. Serious weight saving waterproofing for the lightweight traveller

I've just discovered NeverWet. It's already got a lot of people talking in the states. I remember seeing it as 'Teflon Spray' on 'Tomorrow's World', a programme on British TV in the 80's.... and I've been searching for it for the past 25 years!

Now I finally found it!! But you can't get it anywhere else outside the USA. So I ordered some last month off ebay and it arrived in the UK. Finally.
It's amazing.

 If you don't know what it is it's pretty simple:

Spray it on. Thing doesn't get wet. 

Think about that for a minute. It can waterproof your suit. It can waterproof your cheap shoes. For somebody who lives a life on the road this is a game changer, you just need to use your head and apply it.

Some examples:

1) Buy a cheap windbreaker, waterproof it, and get a much lighter waterproof jacket.

2) Buy any shoes you like and worry a lot less about British weather

3) Drop the waterproof lining on your rucksack.

4) Spray it on your laptop for a bit of extra luck (I'm not suggesting it's going to save you, just that it might save your bacon when you spill that coffee)

5) Instead of packing a jacket, just spray your hoodie and loose that extra weight. Or even spray a suit and wear that trekking!

Got any more ideas? Let others know below!

1 Jan 2014

Is this dodgy internet cyber cafe computer boxen safe to use paypal with?

 Generally it's safer to use your own tech when on the road. As we know though things don't always turn out that way.

 We can sometimes work around it.

 Single use, one time passwords. "2 factor security"

Ebay - offers sign in via the credit card verisign security key. You have to buy the thing though and it was £20(!) last time I checked. The problem is that you still have to type your password in and you can reset your password so make sure that email address is secure. Of course there's a risk that you can lose the thing... but for me it's saved my bacon now a few times and it seems worth it.

Paypal - that verisign key also works with paypal. I've used this a few times online in shoddy net cafes. Saved my bacon a few times when I couldn't find find WiFi.

Gmail, Drive etc Google sign in services - Google Authenticator is a cool thing. A shame you need a phone to run it but there's also paper backup codes. Be sure to backup your codes. Another good reason to carry a spare phone. You can also mail yourself backup info.

Your own servers, such as ssh. You can get Google Authentocator working with these but I prefer Perfect OTP passwords. Bit of hassle to setup and you can easily lock yourself out so backup.

LastPass also has Ubikey support and single use password to help you with unsupported sites but last time I checked that doesn't work fully in the cloud so while it's loads better than typing in passwords by hand, it's not great.

I also recommend getting good with telephone banking and have a callback method. That way at least you can access your bank. Calling with VoIP over WiFi is probably not a common threat but it's not a good idea to avoid - better to have a VPN setup for that.

To check the browser the internet cafe offers use: rng.io
I'm sure you know to check for a virus scanner but really we've had so many bypasses of those now that isn't much to go on.
Also you can disable dodgy plugins and addons in one go sometimes with private browsing modes.

Really, without single use passwords you're taking a risk no matter what you do.

3 Feb 2013

Bush Mechanics around the world (jugaad ghetto engineering) "streetuse"

South USAhttp://whitetrashrepairs.com


India: A related term is "jugaad" some photo examples here
Commercial jugaad
Starting a van with a rope whip

Roma: Related term ""Pretty Dyana"



Cuba has a lot of street engineering. Can we find the Spanish for it?

USA term: 'Quick dirty hack'. 'Kludge'
Related terms you might get in the UK: 'Bodge'

Useful items for fixes: Ty-wraps. Duct tape. WD40. These are the classics jugaard items for fixing things.

Jailhouse tech. More prisoner gadgets.

Loads more here at Streetuse:

Living in a car fulltiming


"Varner emphatically agrees. "What's the worst-case scenario?" he says, chuckling. "I fail and can't afford rent? I have to go live in a car?"

Sleep: Rear seats down, foam matress, feet in the trunck (boot)
Shower: Gym
Working: Hacker Dojo
Eat: Food in car, fridges at Hacker DoJo
Parking: Wasn't disturbed (it's USA)

$ ""My monthly costs were a grand total of $219. $100 for a 24/7 co-working membership, $39 for a 24/7 gym membership, and $80 at the grocery""

 Highlighting comments:

"Any good sized town is going to have a couple of soup kitchens, shelters, and other 'services' for the poor, pitiful homeless, but the worst thing you can do is spend a lot of time around other homeless people. (There are several reasons, some psychological; but the big one is that, as bad off as you are, you're probably well off by contrast to most of the others, and . . . things level)"

SMS txt tricks to avoid data roaming while travelling

 Buying a local simcard is now thankfully a reality for a lot of places. But not everywhere and it can sometimes be a pain to do and setup (tip: don't walk out of the shop until the shop assistant has shown it working on your phone).

A lot of people use SMS on the road. While it can be expensive to send, it's reliable. As long as you don't get into back and forth replies with someone it shouldn't be too expensive.

Some ideas:

- setup SMS balance notifications with your bank, since finding a secure connection to logon will be difficult if not impossible in some places and many banks don't offer decent 2-factor authentication like password grids or google authenticator... and also many ATM's don't allow balance checking. Chext might help you if your bank doesn't support balance by SMS. If you can't get this working though then for goodness sake just take note on a piece of paper as you spend! (I'm guilty of not doing this too)

- you can search google by SMS

- update twitter, facebook and google plus status, blogger by SMS

- question services such as ChaCha

- "program" (effectively) using SMS to do things on your behalf using "If this, then that" https://ifttt.com/ . You can use SMS both as an input (costs) or as an output (free)
- txt yourself the weather in the morning and sunrise
- many more ideas here

- obviously if you do have a data connection there's WhatsApp but it's a permissions and battery hog so you might prefer Contacts+ or any other of those services

Got some tricks? Share them below, no login needed

15 Jan 2013

More Knowmad lifestyle links

 Ah... I've found a new plethora of resources dedicated to the subject of this blog. The keywords:

 "Location independent lifestyle"

So now I've found I'm really not alone in this lifestyle. So now some more resources.

Coworking where you can work on the road:

A website biz orientated website, very useful, lots of info, flogging an ebook on the subject for £8:

A quora link on the subject:

12 Jan 2013

Togglemobile, VS worldSim vs local simcards notes (International simcards)

 I have a Togglemobile simcard on the way. When it gets here I'll do a proper review. It will be interesting to see if it actually works as advertised on the road.

Basically the strategy of the company is to offer you a local number for every country you wish to travel to.
This is better even than other international cards which typically either offer you a dual number in the Isle of Man (advertised as the UK) and in the USA (but charge alot for calls to the USA number).... or offer a non-geographical mobile number setup from Estonia.

 Iceland companies tend to have gone bust. Belgium companies offer a similar system but it's basically not cheap. There was a company called Paytoo but that too seems to have gone bust. That was a simcard somehow linked to VoIP but in practice it wasn't that cheap.

 So, Togglemobile then.

- £5 each number rent/yearb (not advertised)
- EU Domestic calls: tends to be 3p/landlines, 9p/mobile, 3p/sms
However consider this:
- Trinidad domestic: 15p/monfile/landline, 9p SMS
but without that local number:
- Trinidad to UK: £1.28/min recieve, £3 local calls etc... so it's back to normal prices... will I be billed incorrectly I wonder

In short, it's easier to use because you don't need to find a shop to register your SIM or go back to the hotel to haul your passport to the shop to prove who you are (driving license also sometimes works)... but it's still £5/year and then you have expensive data rates still.
Have it as a backup but local sims are still better, including international calls via an access number.

 So I suggest having this as a backup or just using for SMS.

The other approach can be to just focus on data rates and use email. This works for Europe and established markets without monopolies. But there's no good rates in a lot of countries still. Data still tends to be harder to get. There are sims out there focussing just on data... an example with iphonetrip is 100mb/day for $8 but I doubt it's really this rate in Trinidad, Oman or Ghana for example.
If you want this for maps, perhaps you should see my post regarding offline mapping.

Thus, as a guide local SIM cards and access numbers are still the best.

WorldSim are also advertising "free call forwarding" but I don't believe this - how would they do this without cost to them? They also suggest setting up call forwarding from your WorldSIM number to the number you wish to call and then calling yourself... I can't see this working... I expect the costs are just moved to the line you are calling yourself from...?

When looking up prices I suggest going straight to Trinidad or Ghana to see the rates to get a worst cast scenario first.

I note that none of the companies offer a UK to mobile number link via VoIP for cheaper rates.

Togglemobile rates:
A great Australian thread summerising the state of the international simcard market, minus Togglemobile:
WorldSIM rates:
Wiki page on all this:

After trying it out in Namibia, Spain & Senegal I can say that it just isn't worth the bother. In the countries where it actually works and is reliable (like Australia), it usually super cheap and easy to get a local sim anyway. It's only really good as a backup for established places such as Oz... in general.

18 Dec 2012

Maintaining a physical mailing address presence in the USA

Useful links:

SBI is a company based in Florida focusing on sailing Yacht cruisers who need a postal address. They will scan and make your post available online for >$12/month.

Very useful.

You can tie this in with other remote services such as:
 - a phone number that takes messages and makes them available online (i.e. Google Answerphone); some will also transcribe to email - you can then access this over SailMail with a Pactor or cheaper alternative modem and SSB band
- a virtual mobile phone number accessible online
- callforwarding. A word of caution here, usually if you do this the number you are forwardinf FROM will be charged (probably your mobile phone), not the caller. Bear that in mind if forwarding to a satellite phone
- VoIP can be useful but you will probably want an answerphone service to go with that for when you fly or cross borders like "Hullomail" (spelt with a U). The phrase you are searching for incoming numbers is "SiP DiD"
- also look into "Virtual Office" providers

Skype vs VoIP:

Skype is great for ease of use AT THE MOMENT. To be clear, the way it works is a blackbox. That means that you and your network of contacts are at the mercy of the company. The encryption is enough to stop the casual hostel wifi logger without any skills but given a bit of effort they can crack it. This is plenty enough for most cases but it's not great so a VPN might be useful for you. You could also have your own virtual computer to connect into that way. Obviously the webcam is very nice too, especially on a phone but who knows, perhaps they will withdraw support for your phone one day when you are abroad like they did to me.

Encrypted VoIP is a lot better but tends to be harder to setup.
If you use VoIP without encryption (SIP is a type of VoIP) then all it takes is for someone to run a log command somewhere in between your VoIP provider and you to log the call. It really is as easy in some cases to download and run a command to log your call. Fortunately I don't think this is common. But I wouldn't risk it and as such in this case Skype is better for booking flights with a credit card etc.

Look into getting access to a VPN for your phone if you're using hotel WiFi for calls.

Alternatively, get a local simcard and start a phone-to-phone call. This is more expensive since you are making 2 calls. There are a number of ways of starting the call. The most common is to visit a website. VoIPCheap offer this. Another, better way is to register your phone number with VoIPduniya and call them, the call fails and they will call you back. This is unreliable - sometimes because your local callerID number changes but I've also notice that sometimes seems to fail for no reason but when it works it's brilliant.
The other way to start a call is using SMS. International SMS isn't too expensive but it also isn't cheap so take your pick and let me know how you get on.

I will now look into maintaining a presence in other countries with similar services. Do you know of any?

28 Nov 2012

Hitchhiking Inspiration from Aaron Bell

Evolution Of Hitchhiking from aaronbell

This presentation on Hitchhikng is gold. I've never tried - shame!

28 Sep 2012

The real social network

I see the people around me as a valuable resource. Everyone has something of interest and everyone has something to give but more than that you have means of helping them which can cost you nothing.

Think back on the major points of progress you've had in your life, for me, many of them are due to the people I've known and met. Jobs came through word of mouth rather than search and apply. A lot of the best, unexpected yet useful knowledge gained has been through direct contact with people.

Standing in line saying nothing I feel there is this great resource, under utilised.

Someone who can utilise this and find a way to break the social barriers will increase chances for serendipity. It seems like there is a network between people that is operating whether you interact or not. The people who actually interact ake greater advantage of this. The network is interesting with this effect in different ways if you're staying in the same place or traveling.

So how do we do break the ice?

Well if you're British you mention the weather or get drunk, but is it going to go any further than that? Likewise, how do you get the subject onto something more interesting, avoid the awkward silences and so on?
I'm no expert in this but I know the only way to learn is by doing taking any mistakes on the way as valuable lessons.

What are your ways of breaking the ice?

7 Apr 2012

Algae for preventing disease in travellers

Previously I wrote about preventing infections when travelling using Kefir.

This is not the only big hitting defense you have. Try algae. In fact, Chorella to be exact.

The lipid profile is exactly what the immune system needs. If you combine this with other things the immune system needs at that point where you think you're going down with something, take a lot and this usually prevents it or cuts down the fever by a day or 2.

Marine sourced oils are usually what is missing in most people's diets these days. I expect this is due to our marine ape source. That is, early humans came from the sea, lived by the coast and in fact we are descended from fish and have more in common with whales than say, a cow.

This could change you're life.

Algae is the most compact bundle of nutrients I know. Very relevant for the traveller with weight limits. Spirulina is good 2. The 2 overlap in what they provide a bit but Chorella packs a little for for the wieght. This is the only thing I'll take now regularly. It's also nice fresh but of course, not really possible when travelling.


Preventing travelers deli belly diarrhea, stop getting sick when flying

As a traveller you are exposed to many more different germs.

Hygiene is paramount of course. But if you aren't washing and preparing your own food, trying the local food from restaurants, then you're taking a risk.

What can be done?

One thing I've found that works fantastically well is Kefir, if you can get it.

This drink has so much good bacteria in it that if you eat enough it can out-compete any bacteria that could cause you a problem. This is why it was such a well kept secret for years and wars fought over it in ancient history. Some say it was a gift from god.

The only thing is that it's unwieldly when travelling. The first problem is that practically every country restricts bacteria, but then that's ridiculous because bacteria is in and on your body and in a sense humans are about 1-2kg of bacteria...
the second problem is that you need to keep Kefir aerated or it will turn bad and at a minimum give you gas and worse would make you ill.

The only solution I have so far is to dry the grains for travelling.

I am trying to develop a vessel for holding water that allows aeration but it seems difficult to do without a risk of spillage. If you have any ideas please get in touch.

29 May 2011

Speeding up slow internet browsing

I sometimes use very slow connections.

I'm sure I'm not alone. There are plenty of users who use:

- satelite
- poor signal 3G users
- people in poorly connected countries
- people behind shared connections with no bandwidth management
- very poor wifi signals
- a few packetradio people out there

Of course, the web has been getting more and more high bandwidth.

How do we handle this?

Here's a few ideas that I have been known to use and can recommend:

- adblock plus
- flashblock
- noscript
- img like opera
- a caching proxy
- a filtering proxy like privoxy
- a caching dns proxy
- compressed ssh connections and opera turbo

But is the connection up at all?
To this end I open up a shell/cmd.exe and use:

- ping example-website.com /t /l 2
if I'm on Windows. This only shows if the connection is up or not. The /l 1 specifies a small packet size of only 2 bytes to save bandwidth. Although this is very small I've rarely seen it confused by packet loss

For live bandwidth monitoring I use:

- htop
- there's a Windows program out there designed for bandwidth control, this is pretty handy for monitoring too but I forget the name of it
- I don't generally use Ethereal for live monitoring... perhaps I should investigate

Then there's the problem of ssh compressed connections dropping out. For this I recommend:

- autossh (linux)
- bitwise tunnelier (win32)

Anything else?

- check out the lazarus firefox extention and similar but simpler addons for firefox. Is you type a load of stuff into a text box you don't want to loose it all when the connection drops
- if you're on satelite, have the status of the link such as gain visible if possible
- similar with GPRS/3G; have the bar signal visible if possible as well as a ping test running.
- if you're behind a proxy you could ping the proxy and then compare that to pinging a site you've pinged on a normal connection, that can tell you where your lag is coming in. Sometimes it's the proxy not your own connection.
- sometimes you can turn off sounds and things but these are rarely used by websites and yes, people not labelling thier images is annoying but remember they're losing google pagerank for not doing so, so it shouldn't ever get too bad. Flash is a worry too but html5 is good news.
- I don't generally mess with timeout settings... should I?
- greasemonkey could be a useful thing... any comments on that?
- lasspass has an auto login feature. With this you can que up say 10 tabs to all login, get a cup of tea and hopefully by the time you're back they're all logged in
- if you're on a good connection you can use the throttle firefox extension to simulate a slow connection
- if on windows also check out the PaleMoon fork of Firefox. It only makes a few simple tweaks but boy is it faster. Just make sure you get the official version and not some spyware riddled scam

Non web, lag friendly things:

- IRC is very low bandwidth
- instant messengers are suprisingly high bandwidth. If you leave them running on a 3G dongle they can soak up your entire allowance! Certainly with Google chat/gtalk anyway. Anyone got any stats for the others? Which is the best? This can be investigated with ethereal packet sniffing.
- obvious to say it but email. It's even more packet switched than the web. In this sense true pop3 is better than webmail because you can schedule it to connet when the connection comes back up or keep trying, so it's worth the effort to setup. You can do this with gmail and other webmail providers
- that previous tip with pop3 email is more useful than you might think because you can use it to twitter, status update and blog. Probably more things too, do you know of any for me to include here?
- you can even try text mode browsers like lynx and links2, possibly even over ssh but I wouldn't recommend it
- ...having said this, commandline apps are generally very useful so access to a shell is still very handy even over a laggy connection. You can combine this with byobou to leave programs running
- if you're using ssh check out kitty. It's a fork of putty for Windows and it allows you to pre-prepare your command and paste that in with F12. This is easier than trying to copy and paste manually and certainly easier than trying to go back and forth correcting typos on a laggy connection

Future developments:

Now I'm investigating seeing if it's possible to have more control over what is loading. Wouldn't it be nice to select and cancel items as they load?
It would also be good to get more verbose info on what is happening behind the scenes. Is this page loading or has the connection dropped out completely and we're wasting our time? The Firefox status bar was removed, that can be reinstated. It would be nice to see this info on the location bar or even a whole 2nd monitor dedicated to showing what is happing to our bandwidth.
The same thing with javascript. Are there live monitoring plugins for this? That's the next stage.
It would be nice to part load images, then click to fully load. Some images will load detail in stages whereas others will load top to bottom, depending on the image type more than which browser you're using.
Also, what about queing up youtube pages to load whilst you're sleeping? There are 3rd party downloader apps, both as plugins. Perhaps this could be scripted. Search your favorite linux distro for programs, you might find something good.

What do you use to get by with? Have you been using any of the above? Can you think of anything I've missed? Like the tips?

29 Mar 2011

3G Data UMTS GPRS Europe International Roaming Data Charges SimYO Germany

I hear there a prepay simcard you can get that allows sensible charges through Europe. It's the German simYo. I hear you need a German delivery address though. Pretty handy for travelling Europe.

And yes, data is sensible... I think Spain and France covered... €9.90 for a month, 1gb.

Here's the Spainish forum for SimYo:

and simYo germany:

Yeah, it's all in German. So post your comments below to help each other.

It's still better to have local sims but if you're traveling all over Europe this is much better.

27 Dec 2010

Safely login to your computer at home from an Internet cafe with one time passwords (otp) and sshd

If you login to your home computer from an internet cafe there's every chance someone could have logged what you typed. You can use the on screen keyboard to cut that problem, but then also your movements on screen can be tracked.

What can you do?

One time passwords are the answer. You use them once, and then go to the next one in the list.
However, as I found, they are not simple to get working in the first place. So, here's a quick guide.

Don't mess with this too much remotely, or be prepared for it to go wrong because you're messing with ssh login here and if you mess up (don't blame me), you'll be locked out.

will need "UsePAM yes" in it

will need to look something like:

auth required pam_nologin.so
auth optional pam_afpmount.so
auth sufficient pam_ppp.so
auth sufficient pam_securityserver.so
auth sufficient pam_unix.so
#auth required pam_deny.so

Basically that will ask for the one time password first and if that fails it will then ask you for your normal password.
You can generate a list of passwords using the gmail-otp package, amoungst others.

The next thing you might need is a putty.exe like java applet in case you can't put a USB stick in the cafe.

Hope this helps

11 Oct 2010

Kindle DX / Kindle3 3G Roaming Hack?

Amazon are including free 3G international. That's a first and it makes for some exciting possibilities.

Right now it's possible to web browse pretty much everywhere on the experimental browser.
But that isn't great. Good for email though; that's a world's first. And people don't seemed to be charged... yet.

A few things are unclear and need investigation:
- does it drop back to GPRS in lieu of 3G/Edge?
- there's surely got to be a data limit transfer
- is the SIM hard linked to the hardware? Can this be hacked for use in a 3G dongle? Is MAC spoofing needed? Someone out there must have investigated this? Is it a mini sim? I wonder if that's why they have mini sims - to slow people down on that.
- what about cracking open the kindle and trying to turn it into a wireless 3G access point? a-la Joikuspot ? Need firmware info on that. Probably too hard to do.

A few things that need to be said:
- generally amazon aren't charging for roaming but something like $5/week is on the cards
- there is an international version and a US version. I suggest you research the 2 thoroughly.
- the association with DRM I think will kill it in that software problems are unlikely to be fixed by the masses for them. Have to keep an eye on this though; you never know. It does seem a bit doomed.
- if you're going to mess about try to protect your account somehow

Here's the most detail I've found so far:

Basically it's only great for novels at this point in time. Better to wait for the Notation Adam with it's fast response full colour e-ink display.

More to follow on this....
but before you leave, just to let you know that this blog has a few things about being connected globally on the move, road warrior style.

Found some more pictures. I'd love to take that simcard and put it in my phone!!

even though as Tierston says it well:
"As I doubt you'll listen, here are technical reasons why you shouldn't do this. You end up connected to the Amazon Whispernet network. You don't have unrestricted access to the internet and you obviously can't make or receive calls. Only web access is allowed and it has to go via Amazon web proxy servers. Some countries don't have unrestricted web access via 3G and are restricted to the Kindle store and Wikipedia. If Amazon notice you doing this which is very likely since your usage pattern won't be anything like a normal Kindle then they're going to ban you and your Kindle as this violates the Kindle terms of service."

While what people say is true, if you correctly change the browserID and keep usage ultra low I don't see why you wouldn't get away with checking emails and wikipedia with something other than a kindle. I think really this is just a matter of time before this happens. Hopefully what Amazon will do is block those who use more than they should, keeping the balance sheet in check. I don't condone the breaking of TOS but morally and hypothetically I would be ok with people doing this; turn off images and flash and you're using less than the kindle browser would.

jyavenard on http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=60006 puts it well:
"Amazon giving us *free* internet access to some sites is a bonus that wasn't even supposed to be there in the first place. Getting around their restrictions will cost Amazon heaps of $$$ and they could pull the plug to everyone...
I prefer restricted free internet, than no internet at all "

This is important now because I was going to buy a kindle purely for the web browsing but I think now it might be removed (as I suspected) so I won't do it just yet. I'm waiting to be able to read PDFs properly with an eink display really.


The kindle GSM doesn't work in many countries! You can get it working by changing simcards though:
1. change sim card in kindle
2. commented these lines in /opt/amazon/ebook/config/browser_prefs
#settings.proxy.hostname = fints-g7g.amazon.com
#settings.proxy.portnumber = 80
#settings.proxy.sslportnumber = 80
btw, if you don't want your kindle to be recognized online as mobile device, change browser identification string in the same file to smt like this:
user_agent.base = Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; Linux 2.6.22)
3. changed DNS server's ip addresses to my GSM provider's in /etc/resolv.d/resolf.conf.3
4. changed some settings in /etc/ppp/chat/connect-3 to be compagtible with my GSM provider's settings (dialing number and AT+CGDCONT connection string)
5. rebooted kindle and thats it! internet worked

kudos to `ooommm` for that

Here's teh kindle dx dissected:
The simcard is close to the side. You could put a hole in teh casing for quicker swapping, but I don't know if not removing the battery is good enough to get another simcard working... plus, do you really want to mess with simcards on the move like that when you get to a country outside of `whispernet` coverage.
Here's root shell if you got here from google:

2 Oct 2010

Norway payg mobile broadband

In norway at the mo. Got some info for you.

2 networks. Telenor and Netcom. Netcom pay as you go data seems to be at the time of writing ~£0.20p/mb. Telenor, not sure. MMS international certainly a lot, only managed to send 2 with <20kr>
"Telenor offers unlimited Traffic for 50 NOK (6,5€) / 24h. Counter re-starts at midnight. "

Topping up (refill) is not so easy on telenor if you don't speak Norwiegan of course. One way is buy a top up in a shop and ask them to help (nicely, and in a quiet time!). Online, try this - telenor.no > look for `lad` click that - then you can put the amount and your number. It can be a game getting it right the first time. Start the number with the 9. If that doesn't work start it with 00479... (10 digit I think)

I've been using this to work on a website for someone- http://www.oakparksecurity.org.uk/businessAccessControl.shtml

17 Aug 2010

Free airport WiFi

You can bypass some airport wifi that's been setup not so secure. Pretty handy for phone calls, why is it usually £20/day for a wifi spot in Brazil, who pays that? Truth is you're only using it for a few moments to check a few things and to save money, so there's no point in paying for that is there?

The best thing to do is get a local simcard with pay-as-you-go 3G internet on it, then you got it all... in theory. Yes it's a pain to do when you pass through 3 countries in one day & eeception is a problem in every country but it's possible.

If your job is online only, it's perfectly possible to roam the world. The only thing is in practice reception makes this not so good in reality. I'd love to make this my reality. Is this how you run your life? -I'd love to hear from you.

17 Aug 2009


Here's the answer: http://www.pc2paper.co.uk

A very nice service. Send and recieve snail mail online :-)

Even add a printer driver to do it! Wow, a very nice service

9 Apr 2009

Addressing the problem of the address

A major problem for many is the address system.

Generally an address is a big part of the identity system. Yes, there are other ways to identify people, but the address tends to be the lowest common denominator.

How do people deal with this problem?

Certainly look on the expat focus website and others.

What options are there?

1) Own a home and rent it out to people you trust. On paper it remains your place of residence however. Post can be sent there as if you are living there all the time.

2) Parents and relatives. This is what all the gap year students do.

3) A friend. If you don't live somewhere it's hard to get someone to agree to take your mail for you. The best answer I can begin to think of is to actually live there. It all comes down to money. To reduce costs you could rent a place for just a few months a year but use this all year for correspondence. Alternatively rent a space much smaller than you normally would and use it mostly for storage.
Once you have somewhere what is then useful is having someone to open mail for you and possibly email it onwards.

4) Group together. A group of 10 people want to go traveling for a year. Why not rent a small flat together. This brings the cost down by a factor of 10.
But don't forget you have to trust these people as much as you trust people you would live with. The more people involved the more risk. You get what you pay for.

What about paying a company to act as your address and forwarding mail?
Generally this isn't legally fully possible. When a form says `You address`, it means legally your address. A company isn't generally allowed to offer this service because, by doing this they would be saying you live there when you don't.

Generally anybody acting as your address needs full trust with what is essentially your identity.
That is a big risk.

The risk can put people off. However, while it is something that needs attention don't let fear control you. Remember most people are honest.

Many types of Modern Nomad -take heart!

There's many types of nomadic lifestyles. Sometimes you may feel a nomadic way of life puts you into a state of minority.
But that's not unnecessarily true. In this day and age more and more people are enjoying the education of travel.

Here's a few to consider:

1) The backpacker.

2) The campervan time-outer

3) The migration worker. Blue collar. Oil and gas,

4) The Business traveler. White collar. Working for a corporation or self employed generating new business

5) Gap year students. Students in general. Fruit picking in Australia, charity work in Africa. Summer work in Newquay.

6) The semi nomadic. That's me at the moment. A mix of movements.

7) Your traditional homeless person. After speaking to the homeless many prefer to be frezzing to death on the streets than be tied down in provided accommodation with people they'd rather not associate with.

8) Retirees. Most aim to settle down in a new location, somewhere warm. But not all. It also doesn't always work out this way.

9) Live aboard boats and yachts; rivers, moorings and dropped anchor offshore.

10) 2nd homes. I would call this a situation where society ingrained people respond to thier want to move and be free, but aren't prepared to go outside the norm. So they buy a 2nd home in order to have their peers look at them oddly. An easy solution for the rich.

11) The professional / academic sabbatical.

12) Couchsurfers (staying with friends temporally, and inviting them over in a similar way)

These are many categories. All the way from doctors and business owners down to the homeless guy on the street. Most people take an interest in travel. SO take heart!

Some are more nomadic than others. Some enjoy big freedoms of movement, some are a compromise.

You have to find what is right for you.
For some, just a simple campervan to get away at weekends can be enough to take the edge off the rat race. You could then extend this with a day off on a Friday/Monday. And so on.

Personally I have a mix of ways of staying mobile.
- campervan
- stay at a girlfriends
- work at sea
- visit friends abroad

26 Nov 2008

Eviction of a homeless person?

I'll never forget this piece of paper.

Notice of eviction `To the persons unknown in the carpark`

26 Oct 2008

Expectations affects others

I once read that expectations create the outcome.
Also stated as if you think you can, or you think you can't, you're right.

This, I found to have truth in it.
However, one day, I thought I'd test it and see if it effects other people too.

Whilst working nightshift I decided to act (in mannerisms and such) as if I was the boss. To my amazement the real boss started asking me what to do!

I came to the amazing conclusion that expectations don't just create my outcome, but can influence others as well!!

This was amazing. But I have recentgly stumbled upon a paper supporting this. Here is an Abstract:
"Hundreds of research studies have demonstrated that one person's expectations for the behavior of another person can actually affect that other person's behavior"...
and the paper

Author: Rosenthal R.

Source: Current Directions in Psychological Science, Volume 12, Number 5, October 2003 , pp. 151-154(4)

Publisher: Blackwell Publishing

Credit Crunch Conspiracy, Predictions and so forth

1) Take a magnet to a copper coin.
Some are magnetic, some aren't.

This is inflation.

2) Credit crunch opportunities? = buy things for cheaper than before. Does this allow for power change?

3) Will paper money be phased out and replaced with digital money?

Regards talk. Average and reverse all advice read?

4) Regards metals. Fiscal devices have lost trustworthiness so have to go the effort and buy the real thing.

23 Aug 2008

Recieve txts without a phone signal

At http://fishtext.com you can rent a number that you can send and recieve txts from and to.

I've been looking for something like this. It means people can txt me while I'm on a boat and I can see that message over satellite internet.

24 Mar 2008

People are safer than you think

What stops us from doing what we really want to do?

I personally think the world is made out to be a lot more dangerous than it really is.

Yes, going out in Lagos on your own is not a good idea. But it's not a good idea because you are a walking goldmine.

Watching TV and the western world appears as a mass of murder and violence. It's designed to keep people apart. Truth is much more boring than this.

Things I've seen done with no ill harm:
- walking through Lagos at night as a white man in his 50's (fellow traveler; no harm)
- walking through England south west's most dangerous street at night... in full drag!
- camping through the outback alone as a woman (friend)
- surfing alone hundreds of times
- picking up hitchhikers
- enjoying a Brazillian favvella funk street party (multiple friends)
- taking drugs in the middle of Australian nowhere with a bar room brawl going on throwing people through windows (watch on)
- staying in a campervan for 2 years (a friend)

If female you have more value to lose and is visible.

Take precautions in life and be careful but don't let fear be a prison.

And also, who cares what other people think of us if we never see them again anyway?

There's a difference between being on the rails and free and just on the rails.

21 Feb 2008

There's more to search than knowing how to `use` google

So, you know all your boolean operators.

You know abuot advanced search.

You know how to search for certain filetypes and dates, linkto, site:, and so on.

But guess what, none of that is much use if you don't know what words to search for!

What I'm looking for here is help and inspiration on looking for a particular thing.

Let's say we want a medical profile on a spamword.
How do we get the result we want without all the adverts?

In fact, why when we search for things sometimes is the word not even in the results?

And what about finding associated words and using this in the search? What about techniques like that?

There are more tricks, like searching for a telephone area code along with what you are looking for.

But all these tricks are undocumented and everybody reinvents the wheel in trying to find what they are after.

So, where can I find info?

And, if you tell me or someone to just google for something, tell them the word or phrase they should be looking for.

For example, let's say we wanted a clip art image of a happy horse. Not just a horse, but a smiling one. Perhaps it is better to search for a situation where that may be present instead? See what I'm saying?

Use of google needs to evolve and be recorded. Does it come under dataming books?

7 Feb 2008

Women; selfish by design?

`I don't want to think that you wouldn't want to see me if there was no possibility of me being your man. Because to think that would make me feel like a tool. Someone who helped you in life in exchange for sex. I don't ever want to think that. That doesn't make me feel good. What I look for is someone who makes me feel they love me even if they got little in return. Someone who loves me for who I am. The real deal. That's why I don't want to carry on.`

But when I mention this to a friend he said: `A woman's loyalty is only to herself and her children.`

Am I chasing rainbows?

6 Feb 2008

Jurrassic Park Dream

We've arrived on a lost island.
The weather is ok but the geography is awe inspiring. You love this.
Or rather the other you does. Because it's not just us.
There are 2 yous. On my left side is the woman I respect, the you I respect and identify with. I feel honour for this side. But on the other side we have another form of you with us. It's a whimpering child-like you. But younger. She's a liability in a place like this that feels quite dangerous. Secretly I love her but I'm overcoming this. I put up with her.
As we're walking towards the foothills towards the mountains the scenery changes. Based on what I saw earlier I want to go one way, but the older you suggest to go another. You put your point across as to why we should go your way. I think about it and somehow it just makes sense. Somehow I don't notice that it seems like the only way now. I consider you opinion and give it the ok.
We now follow your path.

We come to a valley. This worries me because of a sudden this is a island of the jurrassic park variety. The young you wouldn't be able to handle this thought.

I then spot my worst nightmare; a raptor over the hill. I'm the only one who can handle this situation. Somehow I transmit to you both what to do and you both come to me. The raptor comes to us and I need to tell you both to be still, doing so is risky but it works.
We are all close together, all 3 of us as the dinosaur draws inches to our faces. The you to my left is hardly in my thought because you are handling it well. But the whimpering younger you to my right is whimpering and generally being pathetic. I can't worry for her, we will not be drawn in at this moment. The dinosaur hovers a millimeter from my face and I can feel it's warm breath. It's takes incredible discipline to not react. But I'm the only one with an active part. I'm even breathing out slowly to mask my breath. But do it I do and I hold it off.
But there's nothing I can do about the whimpering you on my right, I can't say anything because it would kill us all.

Then, all of a sudden the whimpering can't stand it. She cries out and makes a bolt for it. I wake up. We know what probably happened next.

That was my dream.

I think sometimes you have to give up fun to be get on. Not a good thing to feel. I think the dream was preparing me for what to do if passion put me in jepody - be strong and don't bite.

21 Jan 2008

On Morals

Today I found myself giving my farther fatherly advice.

He's a highly moral man.

I've had my adventures with moral recently. I've had my lessons.

While I was with my girlfriend I had my opportunities to cheat. I didn't. That's ok. But I also felt guilty creating emotional connections to other women. When the relationship broke up I had nothing.

If we feel something is wrong are we really considering the results of our actions or are we simply acting according to how we feel we should? That is, are these morals our own creation or someone else`s?

In my father's case he felt trapped. He would never screw anyone and he seemed adamant about that. In his mind he felt he would have to screw someone to get out of a very awkward professional situation.

I could see the parallels to the game of love. And if anything I have been playing hard in this the past 2 years. The lessons have been hard. But while life is hard I can in this case appreciate the hardness of life lessons. In this time I found that some of my morals were worth defending. But some of my morals I don't know where they came from. They seemed illogical, keeping me in a jail. Thoughts like sex is bad, making money is wrong. Of course we have to have morals but I'm not going to be held hostage by someone influencing me to do nothing while they plunder all. If the good sit back and do nothing the others will help themselves.

Morals bind us together. We have to be bound together. But they also control and influence. Think logically. If the action has a negative influence I don't recommend doing it. For me, I know that if I do something wrong I will punish myself. There's just something in me that does that; a gene. The moral of random sex is bad was relevant when condoms didn't exist. That moral protected society. Is it relevant anymore? Actually, yes it still does have some relevance. Giving a girl emotional involvement and then cutting her off has a damaging effect even with physical protection. View it this way and you are thinking clearly.

If you are a good person you totally deserve this.

Single again, free to roam

oh Dear Diary, :p

another relationship comes to an end.

It's been a hard 2 years. But because it's been hard I've learnt a lot. If ever there was a relationship designed to teach a strong mentality this would have been it.

Romance - `yuk`, weak leadership - `I don't feel like it tonight`.

A challenging relationship. I felt I could do anything. I felt like a million dollars, like I could change the world and change her to something she wasn't. I might have tried all my life to change her and never given up.

Love isn't enough. Passion isn't enough. I know this because we had it. It needs work. It needs promises. This is Juggler territory, but don't compartmentalize, life is all one. Love and lust are different but also in the same arena.

What can be learnt?

The story.

We'd been together a year and a half. I was send away on work for 4 months. Halfway through I broke down a little but I kept non approach game up. The self worth of being in love made me awesome. One night 4 girls qued up one after the other to hug me and say goodbye. Another and this girl is rubbing her cheek against mine. I feel like my genes are fully activated and I'm expressing how I really am for once in my life.

But then, something feels wrong. After not seeing my girl for 4 months I suddenly relise I can do better. I have had kinder girlfriends, that's the main thing. Interest from prettier girls is just a bonus, and not something I'd think about had I not been away for so long.

So I call her up. We've already booked a holiday together. I suggest selling the place. But the name can't be changed. After giving away my feelings she says `but you're only the most amazing person I've met`. I feel regret but wonder if this is her gaming me. We decide to not be a couple on the holiday. This is going to be very hard I tell myself.

I am now in the situation of sleeping in the same bed as a LJBF, both of us naked and both of us in love with each other. She says it's better not to touch. She's right but she's alpha'ed me again.

As the holiday goes on I be myself. With no intentional game (pure natural) and inhibited only by my sorrow for not being with her every other woman in the shallay is attracted to me. Unfortunately, because I have been faithful (a value core to my identity), I have no experience in converting this attraction and comfort to something more (seduction).
As she witnesses this attraction my ex becomes attracted to me once again. That night I find myself saying `I would pay £10 for a hug with you, you know` she does but leaves before fair. I say because of this I won't pay. This gets my ego out of a bad one. I then ask `how much for another?` to my amazement she says `free`. But auto-pilot sneaks though and I escalate to a kiss too quickly, falling into old habits, forgetting it's been so long and she's sensitive. `sorry I can't do this` she says and I relise I've blown it. She's unintentionally prick teased me and my hormones are raging in me. As I try to sleep she moans pretending to be asleep and pulls the covers off. But now I don't want to do it and she's teasing me. But I can do better than her and this isn't going to help me get over her. I get about an hour's worth of sleep as my resting heart rate levels off at 140bpm. I hate her and imagine grabbing her passionately and giving her that excuse of `he did it to me`.

The next day things actually clear up. We spend the day together and I'm reminded of why she's a bad choice even if it is a strong love. I avoid her as best I can.

Meanwhile I'm building from M1 and M2 with every other girl in the shallay. But M3 seems impossible and not advisable as I do want to split with this girlfriend. That would be out of my depth. I never do get this far. I resolve to study this. That stage (M3) has always been a leap and that's not natural. It has to be as natural as sliding into a hot bath. Need to work on this. I should start by helping cheering up some lonely big girls.

At the end of the week all the girls hug me goodbye. I wonder if I can build on this success. It's a great environment. But I worry the success was due to social proof from the ex girlfriend. She's been posing me off, DHV'ing me to make herself look good (because she's so obvious it makes me cringe). Could she actually be trying to pass me off to another girl out of the goodness of her heart? Does she have a heart now? I ponder this ray of hope.

Meanwhile on the ski slopes I go recklessessly fast. I find if I'm on the limit my mind is free of her. But every contact back with her sets me back to zero. Especially sleeping at night. We never do have sex. As a result of this though my testosterone feels like a train. When she's not in my mind I am confident and powerful. A man on the slopes leading a group of 30 (i.e. higher status) swears at me for going too fast. I confront him in the most quietly and cooly alpha of ways. I feel I could break his neck, nothing to lose, a man quite literally possessed. Never before have I felt this way. Suddenly it seems sexual frustration makes the world go round, and it's not such a bad thing.

And so, here I am. Alone, frankly. A hill to climb. The game will soon be all I have.
Or have I? I haven't completed a cold approach though all the way, my wing's approaches being the big successes. Plus the m3 problem. It's scary. I'm hot now, but loneliness is still the default.

But in time I've built things. A friend has a new network through a new girlfriend that's useful. There is now the option of online dating and speed dating.
By links from my wing are now gone as he has moved. That seems tough. I have to look at something else to be socialable. Time for a new wing and number close that prospect.
I lost the AA on holiday but perhaps that's a different environment. I will now need to be socialable as much as possible. And I'll need those cold approaches. Travel can help me here. Adventures to be had.
The challenge to prevent the sex agenda.

Now I want to travel the world. Morroco or back to the slopes for a base. 2 friends in Australia to explore, a friend in south america to explore. Now I will analyse those prospects with a PUA perspective. Where will the game lead me to my new home?

- get in touch with your feminine side. Helps bridge the gap
- be socialable, meet people
- keep a group, group your populaism
- serve your group, look out for people, be good

26 Dec 2007


Family Christmas. Its like living in a a zoo.

Well, I'm back from travels for the old folks sake. But it's like you know everything they would ever say. And so a coping strategy.

Been on the net far too much. I've just disassembled my laptop, soldered the USB port back, replaced the speakers, reassembled the laptop, replaced the camper bulbs, installed another 12v port, assembled a toolbox for the camper, arranged insurance and kitted out the camper all in one afternoon.

Clearly I need to get laid. So now I'm on `The Rules of the Game` by Neil Strauss. Will see how it goes. Girlfriend doesn't want to see me. Ca la vie

23 Dec 2007

The Awesome Power of Community

I'd pretty much say the secret of happiness is community. Plotting my own personal happiness over the past I notice that as I've got happier so has my involvement with community.

Things that make for a strong community. A shared interest is good. A shared interest that is a bit unusual is better. The more contact and communication between members is good, facetime is even better.

Get involved with a community. You know it makes sense.

Some communities:
- car owners clubs
- work, some types of work especially. Drawback is you usually only have one arena
and it tends to last a long time
- charities
- DIY motorhome builders club
- OpenSource software movement like Ubuntu (computers)
- surfing and travel clubs
- hobbies, scouts, airsoft
- radio ham & cb
- social clubs
- pick up

20 Dec 2007

Intellectual Property

Addressing Intellectual Property. The notion of assigning a value to a thought; usually an idea. I will refer to it as IP for short now.

It's something I think about a lot. It needs work.

Across the board IP effects every part of our lives. As the world changes the impact of a notion of IP is pivotal. What is IP? Should IP exist?

Consider the following scenarios.

A restaurant creates an innovate Molecular Gastronomic dish. It's a sensation. A rival restaurant begins to serve that recipe. Should they be stopped? Should Joe Public at home also be stopped from serving to his family?
If we reward the innovation this costs energy and stifles competition. But if don't the innovation gets little support.

Another example.
A fan listens to a new song at his favorite band's gig. The melody remembered, he stums it back on his guitar at home. People are impressed. In fact, friends encourage him to play for more people. Eventually he plays at the local open mic night and this may be involved in attracting more business for the venue. The guitarist gets no money for this. Should he be stopped? Should he be jailed? Should the venue be fined or shutdown?
A different fan makes a bootleg recording and remixed the tune so that it is enjoyed in a different way than previously possible. Should that be prevented? Would doing so help the original writer?

What about software. That's a common situation.
A company develops a way to process customer information in a very fast way. The program to do this has some protection. It is very expensive. Only international corporations can afford this technology.
A programmer, inspired by this investigates the program and releases a free version. Now the public can all benefit from this technology. With small companies using the technique used in the software the economy is visibly boosted.

Medicine. Lives are at stake here. Don't think this is some airy intellectual discussion. People are dying because of IP, so consider this real example.
International mega corporation has a cure for disease X. However, Mega Corp also produce treatment for the symptoms of disease X. As a result they patent the cure and but never produce it to protect the profit that can be gained from leaving the problem as it is.
Aids drugs are make-able for much cheaper than current price but this is not allowed. In fact, when Venezuela tried to manufacture aids drugs for Africa on the cheap countries on the beneficial from the drugs companies made threats. A quiet political discourse hidden from unified media.

Am I getting through? More examples!

Cosmetics. A less serious example. A chemical formula is available for perminent hair removal. This and any attempts to develop another formula to do this are patented and bought up by the cosmetics industry who have developed a massive industry for hair removal - eppilators, razor blades and waxing strips. Permanently easily remove that hair and the industry is gone.

Piracy. If you would never pay for a product then what damage is done? Most computer users have collections of IP on storage that are greatly in excess of their wage; 300gb of mp3's, is that £9,000 of CDs? DVDs at £15 each how many on your hard drive? What about software? Would you pay for Excel/Office at £200, Photoshop at ~£120, Dreamweaver £300, Cubase ~£200 and all the rest? Imagine we could force everyone to pay - I would wager that everything would come to a halt such a large majority is built on pirate software. Not just infrastructure where licenses can be tracked to businesses but the creative industries like music, media, TV. And all the creative day to day things like when someone needs to make a poster for a local jumble sale. It would effect everything. What can be done? Programming has to be funded somehow.

Trademarks. In time words like ipod, perspex, hoover, oakleys & tomtom get absorbed into everyday language. It becomes tenuous to communicate without using a trademark. This benefits the trademark owner and that is good but it means that people are censored on free speech. I have a Vaccum to sell on ebay, yet no one uses the word vacum, instead using Hoover. I can't communicate. For some words there isn't even an alternative. Ebay's Vero scheme is in a way good because it rewards the efforts of the brand... but how do people find the competition if there is no common word to search for? How do we find the alternative for Perspex and Selophane? Answer: We no longer can because we are censored. So IP is damaging communication here too.

At the moment there's lots of madness about round IP. Fair and efficient, where? Strange situations are occurring. What can be done?

There is one possible unifying answer.
- drop it in all forms.
But I don't think this can happen. I just think it's too much and someone is leading us to try to do the opposite. Perhaps it is workable for a micronation but with compromise to avoid wars on politics like drugs (should all be legal).

In the mean-time education helps. Publicize and educate to bring the world forward on this. Tell everyone you know. Watch for this in everything you see.

On a similar thread of thinking, isn't it best to legalize use of drugs and allow an arena for this kind of thing in sport?

4 Dec 2007

3G Three UK Mobile Internet, Linux, £5/month & 100kb/down, 40kb/up

I'm blown away by this.
Here I am sitting in a campervan getting 100kb download speeds for £5/month on linux.

Here's the setup:

SIM Card: Three Pay as you go from ebay ~£2
Credit: £10 credit with £5/month for 2000gb add-on from Three
Phone: Nokia N80 flashed to internet edition £60 off ebay
Computer: Bluetooth dongle is a blue `linksys USB100` (~£20 because you can extend the range of it by chopping the antenna). Software is Ubuntu using kppp to dial up on an IBM Thinkpad (£200).

Computer settings:
#sdptool browse > find n80 bluetooth address and correct channel (mine was channel 1)
#rfcomm bind 1 1 && edit /etc/bluetooth/rfcomm.conf to add something like
rfcomm2 { bind yes; channel 2; # MAC address of your phone: device 00:00:00:34:F6:25; }
^ this sets up /dev/rfcomm2 as a bluetooth link to the phone, just like a normal tty rs232 serial port. Test the connection with kppp and `test modem commands`. Pairing the phone helps - I had to do this from the phone and set the computer as authenticated

Now kppp settings.
Username = 3
Password = 3
Init string 1 = ATZ
Init string 2 = AT+CGDCONT=1,"IP"
^ you can get to change the modem init strings under modems > edit > modem > modem commands

Phone number to dial = *99***# (this dials the default connection on your phone. You can dial a different connection if you like with *99***2# for connection 2 in the que for example)
Auth = pap/chap

--- and it works for me! Stoked! Now to investigate the same thing but traveling globally. Any info on that?

update 17/1/2011::

I've heard the APN is `three.co.uk` and some sources say user:pass is to be left blank.

Ubuntu has the mobile broadband connect helper in NetworkManager now too. This appears to work with a Nokia E55 and so should do the business on Android Froyo too.

All these settings can be made not needed by using a WiFi 3G access point such as the MiFi,

Solwise EnGenius Wireless 11n 3G Travel Router, or

Novatel 2352

Intellinet Wi-Fi 150N Portable 3G Router 524803


also, wise man once say:
""3services" is the one for 3 content (planet 3 etc) and the internet one is 3netaccess.

if you get the x-series data pack you use 3services.

if you have a 3 broadband modem thing you use 3netaccess"

21 Nov 2007

I find I'm dyslexic after 17 years of education

A discovery I made a little earlier whilst at university. I had heard of some people receiving free computers to help them with their studies. But alas these people were dyslexic. I love computers, and I really need a new one. How can I wangle myself a free computer? Although I haven't found it particularly hard this year, I have had trouble with the way it is taught. It just doesn't seem to match me. It just seems that these some subjects are inherently hard. And in fact, I always seem to be running out of time in exams. In a way, I had been having trouble with my work. Isn’t this service designed for the mentally handicapped, disabled or with learning difficulties? People really in the shit?

But then again, perhaps they give out help to anyone who is having just basic problems with studies. Might as well check it out. I might even be exaggerating on the test a little.

I find the place I need to be to get my free computer. Hidden at the bottom of the open access computer building I find a whole area I hadn't seen before. Looking at the walls this must be a support place for the mentally handicapped and disabled. Billboards advertise support for all manner of ills. Wheelchair advertisements, support groups, charities, religious groups.

All of a sudden I feel cold feet.

I wasn't planning on pretending to be disabled for the sake of a £800 computer. The thought of this is momentarily forgotten as I notice a message on the wall `If you are blind or partially sighted, we may be able to provide assistance during lectures. Contact us for advice and support on the following number…`

Shit. I'm called in.

Well, no backing out now. You wanna lie? Well here you are, you're in and now you better lie good. Start limping and do it good because this is for real.

Fortunately the woman in the office is very amicable. Very amicable indeed. No. Not amicable. A saint. A true saint. The sort of person you see on TV receiving the Mother Teresa Heart of Gold Award for being a kind and selfless person. This isn't helping my conscience.

I feel dirty.

The student support woman explains what help is available for people with learning difficulties. Involuntarily, and as soon as she mentions the phrase `Learning Difficulties` my mind immediately wanders to the Goonies and that horribly disfigured character. Dropped on his head as a child this hunchback of notra-dame, but fully grown... growth of a man is completely dependant on his mother for support. He scares small children with a face like a fried breakfast. He knows not right from wrong. He can do no wrong and he has done nothing wrong. Yet he is treated as a freak.

This will be the hopelessly inflicted from whom I will be stealing from.

I feel ill.

Never-the-less an `appointment` is made…


My god, a qualified doctor is going to examine me. You've played some ruses in your time sister but this takes the biscuit. Desperate measures are required. Perhaps I should bash myself with a breakfast frying pan to echo it's nutritional contents to my face?

After having time to sleep on it I look up some details on dyslexia. I don't do much looking but perhaps this is not what is as first appears. I'll read more when I get time later, it’s time to go.

I can't back out. I decide to attend my appointment. Besides, I feel cocky. Nothing to lose. I don't know these people. Could be interesting. Let's have some fun.

Waiting for the examiner to arrive I begin to consider my actions. Will I lie? Will I exaggerate? What if I say I was dropped on my head as a teenager? – would damage at a later age be plausible?

Let's just take it as it comes.

I am not a con-man. As a child it was a thrill to eat penny-sweets without paying for them. I still feel guilty about that. That was the limit of my criminal ways.

There comes a time when a man is given the chance to serve for his sins. Now is my time. I conduct the test with honesty.

Indeed I pass the spelling test with flying colours.

Somehow the examiner seems non-judgemental.

This test it seems, is in fact one test of many interesting and some unusual tests. The term `Learning Difficulties` I infer, must be a general heading for a series of problems of which Dyslexia and spelling is but one. The tests continue.

By the end of testing I am very much intrigued. Some of these tests are really very basic. I ask the examiner and my world begins to change.

"Yes" he says. Some of these tests you will find easy. People with dyslexia are often talented in different ways to the majority.

I had been tricked! Instead of failing the tests to get a free computer, some of them I needed to do well at!

Crafty psychology types indeed.

The examiner only explained a little. Things start to change. Later I would learn that Dyslexia isn't a disease. In fact Dyslexia is not a disability. Dyslexia is a side effect to a type of intelligence. By being intelligent, that is, talented at associating data, here there is a compromise on memory. And there is much more to memory than spelling!

Instead of wangling a free computer on the sly, I ended up with MUCH more than I bargained for. I learnt that I am, in the words of my former self, `a spacko`.


I have learnt, without he aide of any sod, that I associate widely. And in the process of being so open minded, the cost of this talent is that I lose address to sequence and order. Especially with numbers. This can be annoying, and it has cost me many opportunities, job interviews and careers. But I am proud, because I am different. In fact, it is a hallmark of all that is interesting and cool about myself. Interesting people don't pass examines at school or win spelling tests. Interesting people are creative by associating the data that enters their` everyday experience. This is talent, this is the urge to be creative. This is the kind of thing that makes us human.

I think it's amazing that I've gone through so many years of education and not one person spotted this. It wasn't spotted at first school, middle school, upper school or college. It wasn't even spotted at University. Only when I'm just getting to the finish line do I find out why I despise education so much!

So what now? What now to do with this new knowledge? For one, I am going to find out as much as I can about the gypsies. Perhaps I can find something about that oast that I haven't investigated. Something that feels odd and unusual. Where this feels strange, that is the area to pursue to make new discoveries. Here this is clear because of the contrast to where I grew up but what of my other side of the family? Can I learn anything there too?