July 1, 2009

7/3/09 VoiceBox, Visitors, Computers

Our Stupa Cafe is well known, not only to Mongolians, but foreigners as well. That's how Davaa just happened to meet Miranda, host of an English language TV show here in Mongolia called Voice Box. After some discussion, Miranda thought it would be a great idea to do a show on our Buddhist Center. Filming took place over several days and everyone had a wonderful time. Below is a short clip of my English class doing 'Street Karaoke' but there is also the entire show if you want to watch.

Listen for Jim singing badly [laugh]

Here's the whole 30 minute show

Voice Box is a TV show and website that aims to teach English to the youth of Mongolia and talk about issues relevant to them in a fun and interactive way. Many English learning resources make it hard for students because they include topics that don’t relate to individuals in Mongolia. How many students have ever been to a prom? None.

This program changes all that. Every week we use English to explore the rich Mongolian culture through the eyes of you guys. Mongolian people! We go to schools, hang out in gers, sing songs, try traditional foods and customs, talk to Mongolian individuals that have achieved great things, and share it all with you right from the comfort of your living rooms. So come and join us each week at 6:15 pm Saturdays, for a truly eye opening television experience!

Miranda Stokes and Mitchell O’Hearn are now at the helm of Voice Box. They have changed the look and feel of Voice Box a bit, but it is still the show you have come to know and love. The third season is now well under way, and with many more countryside trips planned, they hope to meet you all soon!


Well, with the warm weather comes the annual migration of tourists and travellers to Mongolia. And as shocking as it is, even though I live in 'outer Mongolia' I have quite a few family, friends and friends of friends coming through Ulaanbaatar. Already this week, I had a wonderful visit with Lorne who stayed with my cousins in Japan during her travels through Asia. Also, Francoise stopped by for a quick hello. She is friends with Elke, a woman pilgrim I walked with on the Camino de Santiago in Spain, who is also coming to Mongolia in August. And my cousin Matt and his wife Malissa will be through Ulaanbaatar this month on their way taking the TransSiberian Railway on to Moscow. And a couple of American friends of friends from Katmandu Nepal will visit for a few days. Who would of ever figured. Unfortunately, for some, I too will be traveling in the countryside with Gyatso and Glenda for ten days. Too bad I'll miss Nadaam. Oh well, maybe next summer.


Well, it happens to us all eventually. Even computer geeks like myself. I dropped the laptop. Well, actually it fell of a counter-top and hit the floor. I rebooted immediately and everything seemed fine. But that night, I started to find some programs wouldn't run. By the next day, the computer couldn't finish booting up, it just kept restarting. So, you guessed it, a major hardware failure. Eventually I remembered the TechTools disc that came with the computer when I bought 'AppleCare'. It confirmed my suspicion that part of the hard drive had been damaged. It's recommendation, reformat the drive and start over. And even though I've been harping to everyone here at the center for the need for backups, I haven't done a proper backup myself in a couple of months. What to do?

Compared to all the Windows computers I've worked on over the years, Mac's just don't ever have the same major problems (unless, like me, you drop your computer). No matter, everything worked out. For all you Mac users out there, CarbonCloner saved my 'bacon'. By doing an incremental restore, I was able to save all the files that had been changed since my last back up. Even though a few were damaged and unreadable, and it took me a few days, CarbonCloner made the whole job easier.

Once I was back up and running though, I contacted Rick, a friend who works at the Apple Store on the Plaza back in KC. He hooked me up with Justin who works at the Genius Bar at the store and his recommendation, even though I was back up and running, was to replace the hard drive. "...it's only a matter of time before it kicks the bucket on ya. This is not an absolute truth, but I wouldn't put money on the drive's odds. You might have months, you may only have days. Once compromised, hard drives aren't trustworthy."

But with hard drive prices falling, this was a good excuse to go big - ordered a 250G which is twice the size of my current 120G. And it was only $70. So, I'll continue to use my current drive, back up every night (or more often) and Mom will put the new hard drive in the next care package for Mongolia. And, I'm not sure, but I might be able to get a replacement for the old hard drive under warranty. We'll see.

Thank goodness for free enterprise! When I was back in the States, I loved listening to internet radio. My two best and most visited sites were Pandora.com and Last.FM. When I came to Mongolia, Pandora.com wouldn't let me listen because I didn't live in the US. So, for the first nine months, I listened to Last.FM. Well, all good things much come to and end and they started charging a monthly subscription fee. I don't object to the fee, but your cost should be proportional to how much you listen. I'm sure it's much easier to just charge everyone the same and be done with it. Well, decided to go 'window shopping' today and found to promising websites for listening to music: Jango.com and Grooveshark.com. I'll let ya' know how they measure up.

Don't be surprised if my next journal entry is a bit late. I'm heading out to the country-side on a road trip. More when I get back.