Star Wars: Episode III

I just got back from the Beijing premiere of Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith! The premiere was on Wednesday 18 May, 11:40am GMT. I enjoyed the movie, more so than Episodes I and II.

For all you poor sods out there who didn’t get tickets for the premiere in your location, I have even more maddening news for you: we bought our tickets for the movie just over two hours before the show started!

I won’t post any spoliers, since I know a lot of people (most of the world) haven’t seen it yet, but I will say that I had a good laugh about the part where George W is equated to a Sith Lord.

Back to Real Life

It’s been around 50 days since I’ve posted anything to my blog. Certainly my longest hiatus yet. I’m very much out of touch with most things that have happened on the web since 7th January, and certainly am out of touch with happenings in the Mozilla world.

What have I been up to? I did some travelling over my Chinese New Year break, and then as soon as I got back and was ready to pick up again, my laptop’s hard drive died, so I lost another few days before Dell replaced it.

Where have I been? I finished my final exams in Beijing on 7th January in the morning, and then the trek began:

07th January:  Beijing, China to Hong Kong (by air)
08th January:  Hong Kong to Singapore (by air)
17th January:  Singapore to Mumbai, India (by air)
22nd January:  Mumbai, India to Kolkata, India (by air)
30th January:  Kolkata, India to Mumbai, India (by air)
01st February: Mumbai, India to Singapore (by air)
03rd February: Singapore to Hong Kong (by air)
12th February: Hong Kong to Mumbai, India (by air)
13th February: Mumbai, India to Surat, India (by train)
19th February: Surat, India to Mumbai, India (by train)
20th February: Mumbai, India to Hong Kong (by air)
21st February: Hong Kong to Beijing, China (by air)

I just got back online from my laptop last night, because on the 20th, my hard drive failed, so I had to bring my broken laptop to China and get it fixed here. Dell was actually very good about it, they replaced my old 60GB/2MB cache drive with a new 80GB/8MB cache drive. They also replaced my motherboard because I told them my fan was making wheezing noises. Apparently the easiest way to remedy this was to replace the mobo, since the fan is attached to it. In any case, I’m not complaining.

I hope to get back in touch with Firefox happenings, so I can start triaging bugs again as soon as possible.

first class tomorrow

My first class at BLCU is tomorrow at 9:30am in Building Number 1. Looking forward to it. Right now I’m about to head over to the hospital to get my ‘alien health certificate’ that says I’m not a mental patient and don’t have any nasty diseases. Then, at some point in the next few days I’ll need to get my ‘alien residence permit’.

lots of changes

It’s been over a month since I last posted anything to my blog. Posting after so long seems somewhat weird, because so much has happened since July 22. So here’s the short version of events:

July 30-August 4: Visit New Jersey.
August 6: Leave Chicago permanently and return home to Hong Kong.
August 7: Reach Hong Kong.
August 13-18: Go to Singapore to visit my brother and his family. My fiancee flies down from Kolkata, India and joins me in Singapore.
August 18: My fiancee and I fly to Hong Kong for a short visit (she returned on August 28 to Kolkata).
August 25: I fly to Beijing, China to start a 10-month Manadarin course at the Beijing Language & Culture University.

All of these things have kept me very busy, and away from Mozilla/Firefox. In fact, I think I went a whole month without logging into Bugzilla. That must be some sort of a personal record.

Anyway, now I’m located in Beijing for the next ten months or so. My first impressions of Beijing are very positive. China is far more developed than I imagined, and Beijing is a very cosmopolitan city, even more so I think than Chicago, where I spent my last four years.

Technologically speaking, Beijing is light years ahead of the US. Cellphone providers here are deploying 3G networks capable of sending data at 384kbps down/64kbps up, and GPRS is already in widespread use. The hotel I stayed at for a few nights before moving into my permanent place was the unquestionably best hotel I’ve ever stayed at. Everything was computerised, from the TV controls, to the room lights, to the air conditioning, to calling a valet. And it was all accessible from a central control panel next to the bed. It had to be seen to be believed. I haven’t seen anything like it in either the US or Hong Kong.

The only complaints that I have about internet connectivity are that firstly that it is rather slow, and secondly is that it is censored (though not as heavily as I had imagined). For example, sites such as BBC News and Google Cache are completely inaccessible. I’m sure there are more examples.

Thankfully, I still have VPN access to the University of Chicago (at least until February, after which I’ll need a new VPN provider). Since VPN access is not blocked, I have effectively unrestricted internet access by tunneling to uchicago.edu. I’m glad I’m able to use VPN, else having restricted internet would be somewhat of a bummer. My Vonage box also works here, which is nice, because calls between anywhere in the world and the US are far cheaper than between anywhere in the world and China. I had to buy a new phone to use with it, since using my American wireless phone which was not type-approved for China would probably be the quickest way to annoy the police here, since I’d be broadcasting RF on restricted frequencies.

I’m hoping now that I’m somewhat settled into my new place in Beijing and that my net connection is working (albeit slowly) and unrestricted (thanks to VPN) that I’ll be able to spend some time catching up on my Firefox QA stuff.

graduation & related things

It’s official. I’m now a graduate of the University of Chicago. Today was convocation, so I was conferred my degree along with the other 1100 or so seniors who graduated with me.

I’ve had a very hectic week, and have been moving to my new apartment. I vacated my dorm room today, and have moved all my stuff over to the new place, but haven’t yet settled in. My parents are in Chicago right now for my convocation, and are here until the 17th, so I’m going to be staying with them until they leave, at which point I will begin living it up in my new apartment.

My blog is likely to be pretty quiet over the next few days, as until I’m settled into my new apartment fully I’m just going to be too busy to really sit down and blog. Usually I spend a fair amount of time on Bugzilla every day as well, but even that hasn’t been happening lately. Hopefully once my life has settled down again, I’ll be able to pick up where I left off.

In any case, the days of aebrahim logging in from palevsky-223-084.rh.uchicago.edu or palevsky-223-041.rh.uchicago.edu are over.

i’m back, and done with university!

I’m back. No, I didn’t forget to update my blog, I’ve just been very busy with university over the last week or so, and with finals. Now everything is over, and all my grades are in, and I’ve completed all my degree requirements! I won’t officially graduate until June 12th, but now I’m all set. So now this is what my next week will look like…

Some of you might be wondering what exactly I’ve been working on over the last four years. While describing that in its entirety on my blog would just be impossible, I’m putting my BA Thesis online in case any of my readers want to take a look at it. I think that the topic is very relevant today, and has important implications for our future. So here it is:

An Examination of the Effectiveness of the United Nations at Protecting the Interests of Smaller Nations within a Realist Unipolar World

My BA Thesis

Comments on my thesis by Professor Charles Lipson, Undergraduate Chair of Political Science at the University of Chicago.

The thesis is by no means perfect, and there are many improvements that could be made, and many sections that could be expanded. However, even in its current form, I’m pretty happy with it, and think it’s worth sharing. Maybe one day I’ll expand this into something a lot more comprehensive.

Comments are welcome.

infrequent blogging

I’m not blogging as much as I do usually. This is because finals are looming. A quick summary of my final papers schedule:

Friday 28th – 12 pages
Monday 31st – 15 pages
Tuesday 1st – 6 pages
Wednesday 2nd – n pages, where n is as yet undetermined (I will find out tomorrow).

This is all in addition to the 33 pages I submitted last Friday, and the 8 pages this last Monday. So yeah, things are looking pretty tight for me.

went to the NRA show today

My Dad is in town, and I went with him to the NRA Show that’s going on here right now at McCormick Place. It was pretty interesting, and we met some good people there. It’s running until Tuesday, and I’m probably going to go with him again tomorrow and listen to the keynote speech by Madeline Albright. Should be a good time.