After Oktoberfest, I headed to Berlin to stay with my friends Astera and Joernchen. I love Berlin. This was my fourth trip there. Here’s why: the city has been through so much in the last 100 years and you can see it. I remember the first time I walked through a low spot in Görlitzer Park and I wondered what that was about; it’s the crater from the original Görlitzer Bahnhof. The photo above was taken in Volkspark Friedrichshain on top of one of the two artificial hills constructed from rubble (yes, there’s a word for it) after the war. This trip we spent five hours walking the path of the Berlin Wall seeing how the city had changed since it was taken down. You can still see East/West Berlin as you navigate the city. The East has broad streets with a great tram system while the West is far more packed and disorderly. You can still see the division from space because of the color of the street lights. We went to the Deutsches Technik Museum which is in two train roundhouses they rebuilt after sitting dormant for many years. I highly recommend it if you’re in the city. You get to see all of the technology on the other side of the war. Finally, Berlin feels like a real 24hr city with transit and food always available without feeling contrived like Las Vegas. You can find hundreds of photos from my latest Germany trip on Flickr.
Category Archives: Travel
Another year, another excellent XOXO. This year I went for just the festival pass. You can find all of the conference videos on YouTube. I spent my two conference days hiking with my friend Joe instead. We explored the Columbia River Gorge area which was absolutely beautiful. If you’re ever in Portland it’s definitely worth getting out of the city to check it out; I hope to do it again next year. My friend’s favorite guide book is Curious Gorge.
Munich river surfing
I’m in Germany right now for Oktoberfest with Chris and Erin. While in Munich, we stopped by the Eisbachwelle, a permanent river wave that is a very popular surfing location. The wave is generated by the pump that feeds the artificial river and people have been surfing it since the early 70’s. I’ve embedded a few videos below of the action. Continue reading
Aruba New Year’s
I went to Aruba to celebrate New Year’s with friends. Chris had spotted tickets on AirTran for $600 in June and we thought it was a great deal so we booked immediately. He then found a house on AirBNB that we rented for a week. The group was Chris, Erin, Dave, Pinguino, Craig, Erik, and me. We went snorkeling, visited caves, and participated in the Aruban tradition of buying way too many fireworks. You can find many more photos from the trip on Flickr including me harvesting a coconut found in the backyard. I’ve managed to celebrate New Year’s Eve with Dave and Pinguino every year since moving to LA: 2008 was at CCC in Berlin; 2009 was Fakearctica camping at Lake Isabella; 2010 was Prommunism in Seattle with Jo; 2011 was Breakfast of Champions in San Francisco.
Grand Canyon and the annular solar eclipse
Last week I went to the Grand Canyon with Dave, Pinguino, Grace, Craig, Ana, and Marcus. It’s a place I had been meaning to visit so I gladly joined the trip after Pinguino and Dave suggested they go there for their birthdays. I’ve camped with most of the group before so I knew that despite the 8.5 hour drive, I would definitely have a good time. Continue reading
ShmooCon schedule highlights
The hacker conference ShmooCon is coming up February 5th – 7th, 2010 in Washington D.C. They’ve posted the official schedule so I’ve decided to pull out the talks that I’m interested in:
GPU vs. CPU Supercomputing Security Shootout Collin Brack is presenting on the rise of general purpose GPU usage in security tools. A couple years ago I wrote a love letter to the FPGA hoping that one day we would be adopting it as our coprocessor of choice. It seems now that the GPU has largely taken up that role for doing massively parallel calculations. Nvidia has been pushing CUDA while Apple recently rolled out OpenCL support in Snow Leopard so all new Macs can take advantage of either implementation. Nvidia has a nice collection of resources for learning CUDA on their site.
The New World of Smartphone Security – What Your iPhone Disclosed About You Trevor Hawthorn is going to talk about attacks against the iPhone and what sort of data it exposes to the network. It’ll be interesting to see what is out there, but I’m curious as to what it shares that would make it more exposed than your average Windows machine. There’s also a talk about BlackBerries, but no mention of Android.
Build your own Predator UAV @ 99.95% Discount One of the few hardware talks so it’s a must see for me. I haven’t looked into UAVs that much but I did see a great talk at 25C3 where the live demo was controlling a plane in France from Berlin.
Bluetooth Keyboards: Who Owns Your Keystrokes? Michael Ossmann will demo over-the-air keylogging which will be super rad.
Drink the water
I’m in Vienna for the next few days over Christmas. Boarding the train leaving the airport, I was reminded of one of my favorite Vienna facts by the info screens. In the late 1800s, the city constructed two aqueducts to bring in water from the alps. That’s right, in Vienna unadulterated mountain spring water comes straight out of the tap and it’s delicious.
I looked back to see if I had done any blogging last year over the course of my six week trip. Much to my delight: I had (I also found IM IN UR MANGER KILLING UR SAVIOR). Never avoid blogging because it feels narcissistic; you will write things that you’d otherwise forget and you’ll appreciate seeing it again. Reposting it, like I’m about to do, definitely is narcissism. Most of the trip was brought to you by my missing N95-3.
Things I found: I made a video while procrastinating packing which talks about my elaborate GrandCentral forwarding. I wrote about learning German by context and my love of a 24hr city. The trip actually started in Vienna where we made cocktails in cement mixers, hunted for vegetarian food, and Flo gave me the only haircut I’ve had all year. I provided a rather concise review of Prague. It doesn’t come up in my closing post, but I remember being ready to come home by the end of the trip.
B-b-b-back in Berlin
(Yes, that’s LAX)
I arrived in Berlin three days ago. I’m here for the Chaos Communication Congress just like last year. When I booked my roundtrip, I chose dates that were three weeks apart (I return on January 6th) under the auspices of saving money by avoiding the holiday. Prices have since dropped, but I’m glad I’m here for the extended period. I’m not really in a position to take a vacation, so any change of locale is beneficial.
Dear Charles de Gaulle,
You suck at designing airports. Upon landing, you taxi forever, presumably getting closer to the airport, just to be dumped onto the tarmac in the freezing cold. You’re then loaded onto buses and driven to the terminal. The exposure to the elements is actually teaching you to wear your jacket, since you’ll need the warmth no matter where you are in the terminal. You then navigate a maze and are rewarded with passport control. Play close attention to all announcements, “The deaf dumb women in the terminal is a scam”; you’ll find them above the TGV station. Cross the terminal, clear the helpful security, and you’re ready to wait for your flight. The quantity of seats in the terminal is based on the average number of travelers at any time, not the capacity of a plane at a particular gate, meaning everyone is under-served most of the time. I felt that I had won the battle and charge triumphantly down the jet-way… only to find another bus. It drove us off into the middle of nowhere to board. I certainly hope you’re better at aircraft carrier design. France cannot be France without an awful airport.