A nice place to work in Stavanger

I do quite a bit of traveling and I am dependent on a way to work while on the road. Thanks to a 3G/Edge USB-stick for my MacBook I have some kind of internet connection most places. But I really prefer WLAN. And because I usually empty the battery of my MacBook on the plane/train/bus-ride to my destination I also like to find a spot with a power outlet.

And if you find yourself in Stavanger, Norway at some point I have a spot for you. First of all: Stavanger is pretty well covered with free public WLAN. Good city! And among all the nice restaurants and cafes I found a nice spot at “Godt Brød”:

Nice place to work

Godt Brød Stavanger AS avd Utsalg
Sølvberggata 9
4006 Stavanger
Tel: +47 51844080

The table by the door. Covered well by the free public WIFI. A power outlet near by. Good coffee, good food. Well, with a couple of minutes off while traveling I don’t need more than that.

A nice place to work in Stavanger

Frankfurt Airport Concert – need some help…

On my way back from Bucharest I had a connection in Frankfurt and when arriving at the airport something was happening there. Huge crowds and a band playing. I always bring my camera and had about two hours to kill before my flight to Oslo. So I decided to snap some images of the band.

And while standing there shooting the band someone nearly stepped on me. And suddenly I was surrounded by professional photographers and video cameras. Apparently they where following some important guy around. Being so close I took the liberty to snap an image of this person as well.

Maybe I am utterly ignorant, but I must admit that I don’t know who this person is. Or what band was playing. Anyone out there that recognize these people? Should I have known them?

Frankfurt Airport Concert – need some help…

Airbus A380 over Oslo

Okay. So I didn’t bring my 70-200 f4 L IS, but I managed to get a couple of shots with my 60mm. The plane passed over Oslo in very nice weather. Pretty impressive and a plane of that size seems to fly so unbelievably slow!

They’re here in hope of gaining some ice on the plane while taking off tomorrow morning. Testing. Just testing. We don’t see many regular jumbos here in Oslo and I guessFrom time to time we see the 747 Jumbo Jet here in Oslo but this huge guest won’t frequent our airport in the near future.

Airbus A380 over Oslo

Bad food

Bad Food

I am pretty experienced when it comes to low priced long distance air travel. It’s a pain. But I have some advice:

1. Always bring one small bottle of high quality chili sauce. Tabasco will do. Does wonders on the tasteless food on board the plane. And some trivia: the heat of chili is measured on the scoville scale. And the Bhut Jolokia was recently certified as the hottest of them all.

2. Invest in some high quality noise canceling headphones. I am using something like this. But there are lots of them.

Canon EOS400D, Canon EFS 17-55 2.8 @ 55mm
f/7.1, shutter speed 1/400, RAW

Bad food

A cheap portable DVD and DivX player

Thomson DTH620
Thomson DTH 620
Travelling with kids can be anything from very rewarding and fun to a complete nightmare. Kids are in general very curious and easy to please as things happen around them on the way to a new destination. You always have the traditional games of spotting and counting special objects, following the map, telling stories etc.. If you combine these methods with some new technologies like MP3-players, iPods and portable DVD-Players you could end up managing even quite long trips with no problems.

I have written about the long plane ride and the iPod. In our car we have used a ridiculously cheap little LCD that I bought on eBay connected to my video iPod to show movies. Now the youngest one is old enough to understand what’s going on and we needed a second screen. I don’t want anything very expensive lying around in my car, so I went completely against my own rules of buying quality goods and bought a cheap portable DVD player as the second monitor. I haven’t put it on any hard tests yet, but it seems to fit in perfectly well in our media system in the car.

Thomson DTH 620 connectorsQuick specs:
– 7 inch widescreen
– DVD Player
– Supports DivX, Xvid, MP3, WMA
– Composite video out
– Stereo audio out
– Digital audio out
– Composite video in
– Stereo audio in
– Two headphone connectors
– A three hour battery

It connected to the old Eddie Bauer LCD with no problems. The old screen is NTSC only, but you can choose what signal the DTH620 will transmit on the video output.

So, pop in a DVD in the Thomson player, connect it to another screen as well, and you have the movie on both of them.

LCD screen connected to an iPod VideoConnect it to the video output on your video iPod and you suddenly have a 7 inch portable screen for your iPod. The battery life of the screen is three hours. Probably longer when you use it as a screen only (as long as your iPod provides the video the built in DVD player in the DTH 620 is at rest).

The fact that it plays DivX and Xvid is very nice. I encode my DVDs using AutoGK and end up with between 5 and 10 complete movies on one data DVD (450-700 mb pr. movie is more than enough for this little screen). The DTH620 shows a list of what’s on the DVD and let you choose movie. And I can fit in enough MP3 music and audio books for a veeeery long trip on one DVD as well.

The only problem I have found so far is that I can’t figure out how to get the right aspect on DivX movies that is encoded in true 16/9. It seems like the player only support anamorphic 16/9. Using AutoGK to encode I fix this by hitting Ctrl-F9 to bring up the “hidden options” and check off “.aspect” – Override input AR – Original. Then AutoGK will make a nice anamorphic 16/9-movie that plays fine on the DTH620.

I also miss a loop-through possibility that would let me input video from my iPod and loop it further on to the next screen. To feed both screens with one iPod I need to split the signal (not good) or buy an active video splitter. Anyway, right now the youngest boy wants to look at Teletubbies while the older one watch Nemo or Madagascar. One from a DVD and one from one of our iPods.

It came with a bag and a strap to mount it on the headrest. As well as a charger and connector for the car. I bought mine in Norway at the sometimes horribly expensive and sometimes very cheap Elkjøp for NOK 1295,- (about $200).

Time will show how long this player will last…

A cheap portable DVD and DivX player

The iPod is now mounted in the car

iPod mounted in car

You find the brief introduction on how to connect an iPod to your car here. This is the short roundup:

1. Bought a Dension iceLink to connect the iPod to the factory mounted stereo in my 2001 Toyota Rav4.

2. 30 minutes of work to dismount the stereo and connect the iceLink

iPod mounted with Dension iceLink

3. Bought a ProClip mounting bracket from brodit.se

For Norwegians, find the bracket you want on brodit.se and call MobilData and order it. For a piece of plastic it is horribly expensive: NOK 299,-

For the people that have no clue about Norwegian Kroner – that’s about $44 for the mounting bracket(!)

That said, the bracket was easy to mount, fits well and holds my iPod in place. Unfortunately it has a very ugly kind of leather imitation surface. (Click the images for more detail).

4. Mounting the iceLink dock on the bracket. About 20 minutes of work.

5. Mounting the bracket in the car. Also about 20 minutes of work.

The iPod is now mounted in the car

US dollars and usability


The American dollar is one of the best known currencies in the world and probably the closest you can get to some kind of universal method of payment.

When travelling I would of course always recommend to use local currencies. Anything else would usually be very expensive and sometimes it could be considered directly offensive. Still, when travelling on remote places I always carry some dollars. It’s not the cheapest way to get around, but if your backpack and your passport and your camera and your wallet has just been stolen and the only thing you need is to get to a big city and an embassy, the 100 dollars you have hidden under your belt will usually do the trick. It doesn’t even have to be that dramatic. Some dollar bills has helped me out of simple conflicts on small islands in Indonesia and in the jungle in Malaysia. As mentioned, local currencies help, but when travelling through many countries it’s nice to have something that might work in all of them.

Anyway, I find it strange that this very commonly used currency has such a horribly bad usability:

1. All the bills are the same size
2. All the bills are the same colour

How does blind people pay with dollar bills? I found this solution on blindness.org:

Dollar bills

Coins such as nickels, pennies, dimes, and quarters are easy to tell apart. They all are different sizes, and quarters and dimes have ridges around them, while pennies and nickels are smooth. There are many ways that paper money-like one, five, ten, or twenty dollar bills-can be identified. Some blind people like to keep different bills in separate places in their wallets, especially if it is a larger bill that they perhaps do not often carry with them. The most common way to tell paper money apart is to fold the bills in different ways. Each person will have his or her own way of folding them; there is no standard for everyone. Maybe a five dollar bill is folded in half the long way, and a ten dollar bill is folded in half the short way. Or maybe the ten is folded twice. A one dollar bill might be folded one way or not folded at all. Or maybe a twenty dollar bill is folded in fourths or not at all. Everyone uses his or her own methods. When we get money back from someone else, we ask which bill is which and then fold it.

What’s wrong with different sizes on the different bills?

I have spent my fair amount of time in the US and at some point on each trip I am about to pay with the wrong bill. Something like a 10 dollar instead of a 1 or the other way around. Or even worse, 50 instead of 5… It’s dark, you have been drinking, you’re in a pub. You start paying 10 dollars for each beer. If you’re in Norway that’s perfectly normal, but not in a cheap bar in Las Vegas… (Yes, in hip clubs in Oslo a beer sets you back about 10 dollars, but that’s another story).

What’s wrong with different colours on the different bills?

Beats me. I know that a country’s currency is an important part of the culture. And in the US maybe more than in any other country. Is that the reason why it is impossible to change the dollar bills into something more user friendly?

US dollars and usability