Archive for the ‘Blogging’ Category

I’m Moving..

25 January 08

blog addresses, that is.

The new blog URL is http://global-gal.com or http://www.global-gal.com if you’re fond of w’s.

The blog is the same – go have a gander! Switching to my own domain means I no longer need to use TOR to access my blog or update posts. It also means fellow friends in China can access the blog without using proxies.

I will no longer update this site, or the mindsay blog, but I will keep them as they are, at least as long as they remain free blog hosts! (Unless anyone has any issues accessing my new URL – let me know!)

I’m currently in the process of changing image links to reflect my new photo home – SmugMug. You can see all of my photo galleries at http://globalgal.smugmug.com. I’ve noticed that occasionally, there are issues with photos not showing up in my posts.** Usually, this is a temporary matter. As far as I know, SmugMug is not blocked within China, as Flickr photos sometimes are.  (**Update: actually, it’s my fault! I disabled the external link function for that gallery – oops! The SmugMug team is so fantastic, they alerted me to the problem without me even having to ask!)

My new home is powered by the fabulous web host Laughing Squid. Like SmugMug, Laughing Squid is run by real people, not a corporation. Sure, I could have signed up for a zillion GB of web space for $2 on some big web host company, but I prefer to patronize small businesses with heart. Laughing Squid provides excellent technical support and their servers are high quality. And they’re artists!

Come over to the new blog! I am in desperate need of little red dots on the Clustrmap!

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Blog Blues

23 January 08

Although I didn’t blog much while in Spain, it would have been infinitely easier there. Blogging in China is a real headache. Over the last 2.5 years in China, I have witnessed a noticeable decline in Internet usability. Maybe it is just me, maybe it is not. It just seems that more websites than ever are blocked. Proxy servers that were usable in the past are now blocked. (TOR still works most of the time!) I hear that YouTube will be blocked permanently soon.

WordPress, of course, continues to be blocked. Using TOR to access my blog and update posts is my only option, but it has gotten really slow lately. All that waiting around for pages to load stifles my creativity!

I’ve got a solution in the works. I’ve purchased my own domain name and web space. Soon my blog will be transferred from wordpress.com to its own home. Of course my long term plan is to leave China. Knowing how my life works, however, I may leave China and end up in a country where Internet censorship exists, as well.

Normality

16 January 08

I’m back in China and all I can say is that it is very cold. I’m back to work and also back to library school classes. So I guess I must be very busy.
I’ve been suffering from intense blog laziness over the last few weeks. I haven’t had even the slightest inspiration for updating the blog. Everything I write comes out stiff and awful. I don’t know how long this will last, but when I’m feeling more creative, more posts will come.

SmugMug!!

19 December 07

I love SmugMug! I am almost Flickr free!

As mentioned before, I am leaving Flickr due to my distaste for Yahoo, Flickr’s parent company. I’ve been searching for the right image host for my photos. For a while I thought I was going to have to host all the photos myself. Finally, I found SmugMug.

SmugMug is an image host, similar to Flickr in many ways, but better, in my opinion. For one thing, the background pages are all black, which works better with the photos. Secondly, and most important, SmugMug is a small family-run company. And they have amazing customer service. Last week I signed up for a free 14 day trial. (It is not a free image host.) Yesterday, customer service sent me an email to inquire how the trial was going. One of the reasons that I considered SmugMug is that they offer a handy import tool called SmuggLr, to move Flickr photos (with tags, descriptions, etc.) over to their service. I was having some problems getting it to work, however, so I replied to their email saying I would like some help. Within 10 minutes I received a reply, telling me that the import tool developer would be happy to help me. Within 20 minutes, all of my photos and details were transferred over. No stress. I immediately paid for a year of service.

Now comes the hard work of changing all the photo URLs for the last two years worth of posts! I hope that within the next month I can terminate my Flickr account! You can now view my photo albums at Global Gal’s SmugMug.

Frazzled

5 December 07

I have a few things to share with you, but I don’t really know where to start. I am feeling a little frazzled today because my routine has been thrown off a bit. Instead of my usual coffee, email and tutoring this morning, I accompanied a friend to a hospital. I want to share what I saw and experienced, but I think it will have to wait until tomorrow so I can properly digest what it means to be in a Chinese hospital. I’d like to share some good advice for anyone facing that prospect.

Instead, I will tell you about something delicious and something infuriating. At some point today!

Internet Issues

15 November 07

Is this happening to anyone else out in the China expat blogosphere? Or maybe someone more technically aware can enlighten me on what might be causing my Internet issues?

For the last week or so, our Internet connection at work has been really weird. Here’s what happens. You open the browser, (Firefox), you enter your web URL, you click enter or go or whatever, and you wait. Within a few seconds, the “Cannot Find Server” screen appears. You hit refresh or try again and a second later, “Cannot Find Server.” You realize that there has been no thinking or searching, just an immediate stonewall and “Cannot Find Server.” Finally, after hitting refresh anywhere between 5 and 30 times, the browser will load the page.

Different browser, same problem. Different computer, same problem. Different cables, same problem. Different router, same problem. Turn on Tor program, nonsense stops.

So I have to assume this is a local Internet service provider issue. Are they automatically blocking every URL request? It is terribly annoying. The Internet at home works normally, and I’m pretty sure we have different providers between work and home.

Anyone else have this problem?

Flickr Issues

3 September 07

Flickr, the place where I upload all my photos, continues to be blocked within China. I wrote before about how I am looking for a flickr alternative, but in the meantime, I have found a way to access Flickr, and I want to share it with others who may also be having problems.

There is an add-on for Mozilla Firefox users that will allow you to once again see Flickr without using Tor. (An awesome resource for anonymous blogging! Go here if you want to know more.) And if you are not using Firefox, may I ask why not? Go here and download it now!! It is a million times better and safer than Internet Explorer!

BTW, I have been uploading as many photos as I can to Flickr and organizing them there so they can be viewed by all. Please visit my Flickr page and choose any of the collections down the right side of the screen. I will be adding more photos as time allows, including more photos of China and Canada.

Other Expat Tales

16 July 07

I love reading blogs, especially expat blogs. I like to read blogs with thoughtful, smart commentary on political doings and over-arching themes, but honestly, the ones I like best are observational blogs – those that give insights into the daily life of the blogger. What I want to know is, what is it really like where you are?

Recently I had to take a break from blog reading. It is really time consuming, and I needed to concentrate on my studies. But, I got suckered into blog browsing after I joined expat-blog, a forum for… expat bloggers.  China Grunge is one that I am very interested in. The posts were originally written in diaries between 1993 and 1994, when the blogger was living and working in China. He has transcribed them onto the net and they make for great comparisons with life now.

The blog actually gave me a good idea. I’d like to share some of my stories from previous travels and expat postings, long before I ever knew what blogging was. I don’t have access to the hundreds of photos I’ve taken  – they are all in boxes at my Parent’s house, so I guess words will just have to do. And I’ll be more true to my tag line, “Global Gal in China and Other Expat Tales.” So in the future, you might see some memories from Kuwait, Costa Rica, Spain, or Canada (my former homes) and many more places my travels have taken me.

So Some of You Want to Know Where I’ve Been…

3 July 07

I’m here. Nothing has happened to me. I’m still in China. I’m still a blogger.

I’ve been incognito recently, sorry for that. I’ll try to post a lame-o “Sorry I’ve not been posting” post next time I take a break so no one worries. It is nice to know people actually read this thing.

I am now several weeks into my Master of Library Science program. I am taking two online classes this summer, and one of the reasons I have been neglecting the blog is I needed to devote more time, at least initially, to the classes.

So… truthfully, not much has been happening here. It has been raining – a lot. Humidity levels are through the roof, too, so it is pretty miserable most days. We did get an air conditioner installed in both our office and our room in the apartment, so we do get a respite.

I’ve been teaching a general English class to our students. Not aviation related at all, just plain old speaking and listening stuff. I don’t really have a clue what I’m doing, but it seems to be working out okay.

You will be hearing more from me this week, and on a more regular basis.

Protest

8 June 07

Blogging is difficult in China. My blogging platform, WordPress, is banned in China. For me to be able to update, I have to launch a program called Tor which allows me to bypass the Great Firewall of China. It is slow, and sometimes it just doesn’t want to work. I’ve maintained a mirror of my blog on Mindsay so that I’d have a backup in case of Tor failure, and also so local friends can read my blog without using proxy websites. Today I’ve discovered a new problem.

In the Southern China city of Xiamen, protests have been taking place over the planned construction of a chemical plant. The local residents don’t want another polluting factory disrupting their health and lives. I am far from Xiamen, so I am relying on the Internet to get information, but from what I have read, this protest sounds so awesome. It is a very remarkable thing that the locals are standing up for something they truly believe. Their numbers are so great that their message cannot be hidden from the people.

Protests are not unheard of in China, in fact, they are happening more and more. Peasants unhappy over land grabs, women upset over forced abortions and sterilizations, hospitals attacked for refusing to treat patients without cash-in-hand are a few of the recent protests I’ve heard about. The things is, you don’t usually hear about them. They are squashed as soon as possible. Protesters are dragged away, shot at and detained. The media just doesn’t cover them. Until now. Until blogging and SMS messages, Flickr photo sites and YouTube video upload. More than ever, Chinese are waging Web 2.0 protests. Click on the Web 2.0 link and be astounded. It is an amazing thing to see these people letting their opinions be known.

Of course, this doesn’t sit well with the local officials and the central government. Action must be taken. The Internet must be filtered, censored, blocked. As of today, all of my photos on the photo site Flickr are showing up as empty boxes. (Without the Tor program – with the Tor program I can see them.) This means, that even on my Mindsay blog, which is not blocked, my photos will not be seen.

I am not so concerned about being blocked. My voice is heard by friends and family, mostly in the US and other countries. I am a foreigner who chooses to live here. But for the Chinese voices that need to be heard in China, the filtering and blocking is monumental. Once again, the people are being silenced. Controlled. But for how long?

Steven Banick made this comment on Global Voices, and it sums up nicely my thoughts:

…for sure, the authorities are “cracking down” and heads are rolling, but holding back the inexorable tide of the information age is like that li’l ol Dutch boy…

Yes, this may sound naive at the moment, but for those of us who remember Mao’s Cultural Revolution, the economic and “human interest” changes with China are stunning. Several hundred million middle class people increasingly more engaged in/on the world market, traveling, et al, will not be able to be “held back” in the long run.

As General Patton said, “fixed fortifications are a monument to man’s stupidity.” Thus it will be with Chinese firewalls, bit by bit (yes with some setbacks) as China modernizes, seeks, questions, stirs the pot…

So here is my own protest: One of my favorite photos, taken in Tibet, of a little monk who stood strong against his minders who wanted him to go back into the monastery and stop playing with the ram who had wandered close to the monastery entrance. He was mischievous and wanted to play. He was defiant. (I’m not sure that is what monks are supposed to do.) He wanted it his way.

Little Monk

These protesters have my highest praise. Good for you. Stay strong and do it your way.