One down ...

Six more to go of the Seven New Wonders of the World! Here are the pictures of my recent trip to Jordan. Most of them are of Petra, one of the aforementioned wonders. To my shame & surprise, I have already visited half of the runners-up, but only one of the actual wonders to date.

Without a doubt, Petra is an amazing place, incidentally re-discovered by a fellow countryman in 1812. You can check the place out much more comfortably than him by using Google Earth with its great coverage. I am not sure whether this is going to work, but if it does, you'll get directed to Petra by clicking here for Petra.kmz. Have fun!

Some other pictures are of the Dead Sea (very dead, indeed - note the complete absence of boats), and of Amman, Jordan's capital (quite alive, actually). When in Amman, don't miss to go to Darat al-Funun, a rather surprising and relaxing place. Kudos to The Rough Guide to Jordan for pointing me there!

The journey on Lufthansa was ok, considering that I lost a day because my feeder to Frankfurt was cancelled without replacement. It's really hard to understand why all major airlines get very odd arrival/departure times (ca. 0230h), which is quite a bit of hassle. Especially when you're at the airport early, fully expecting that you can while away your time in the lounge. No such luck - you're not getting in because the check-in counters will not be manned. Jordanians are certainly a very friendly and congenial people, but it is noticeable that tourism hasn't been among their core competencies ... but that will happen before long.

My impressions of the place are complex. It's obviously an Arab country (the first I've been to!) with all the behavioural trappings of the culture, although moderated by a strong influence of the pragmatic Palestinians. Most impressive, though, is the mixture, or maybe partially the overlay, of the different influences that have accumulated over time from both invaders and refugees: Roman, Ottoman, Palestinian, even Circassian! I was particularly interested in trying to discover the remnants of the Ottoman empire, which I've been fascinated by on my trips to Istanbul. The Arab perspective is significantly different. And I'll just mention Lawrence ... Aqaba!!

This post is in part-fulfilment against a friendly complaint that I don't post enough about my trips, which I cannot deny. But I'll try to do better, promise!


A stroke of insight

The whole neuro-whatever business is rather fashionable these days, I know. But this first-hand experience presentation is genuinely fascinating, despite of the somewhat distracting accent ...


Locate me

Locate me is easily one of iPhone's hottest features: In the Maps application, that's what it does, and it does it swiftly without recourse to a slow response, battery hogging GPS. iPhone does it by using Skyhook technology, which maintains a geo-referenced database of WLAN hotspots and cellphone towers.

There's only two minor issues with that approach. Yesterday evening, I was enjoying a pizza in Manchester, UK - at least according to Locate me, I was. Unfortunately I was just about 3km from home. And the next is that Skyhook's coverage is somewhat sketchy in Europe, meaning that it won't usually work. Unless, that is, you submit the hotspot of your choice to Skyhook. The only thing you'll need is a bit of patience as it takes Skyhook a few days to update their database, your router's MAC address and your location. Which naturally seems to make the whole exercise a bit pointless, I admit, but isn't it great to show off the neat feature in the safety of your own home? Thought so ...


Bored of the dance

Surely, some fellow travellers on my train trip to Zurich yesterday must have thought me nuts as I was smiling and sniggering to myself while I was listening to Stephen Fry's latest podgram edition on the iPhone. I'm so perfectly with him on his innate aversion to dancing that it's uncanny! Why don't you subscribe to it yourself - he's utterly dry and funny.



This is the first blogpost I'm creating on my new iPhone, lying on my bed in NYC. And it works great!
Too bad the 16GB model is sold out, but hey, you can't have it all!