Middle East Trip - Syria - Damascus

Listening to had me yearning to go back to Damascus, if only to explore the city on a day other than Friday, or in a state of good health. It was bitterly cold camping there and the gastro had turned into something completely different. Perhaps you might call it man-flu although a few days later in Petra we had to call out the doctor.

The old city was virtually empty on the , save for the Hamas demonstration in the Omayyad mosque that we completely missed (so much for being an axis of evil state). A handful of shops were open and we were able to buy a few keffiyehs. We even ate at a restaurant with free wifi.

Click on the photo below to see the entire set.

Middle East Trip - Syria - Palmyra

New Year’s Eve ended with Palmyra. We arrived late because of a case of “frozen gas” in Resafa (read: no gas), but seeing the lights on the ruins in Palmyra was excellent. I must say that although the ruins in Palmyra were vastly more impressive than Resafa, Palmyra didn’t have that magic for me. It must’ve been the snow, or lack thereof! We ended the year drinking dodgy Lebanese champagne in a Bedouin tent and had camel steaks for dinner. Brilliant, up until the gastro everyone had the next day!

Click on the photo below to see the entire set.

Middle East Trip - Syria - Resafa

Resafa was a special place for us. It was New Years Eve and a miserable day on the way to Palmyra from Aleppo. Rain, sleet, snow and a cold truck. We stopped here for lunch and visited the ruins of this . The snow and the isolation made the place magical.

Click on the photo below to see the entire set.

Middle East Trip - Syria - Aleppo

, our tour leader described Aleppo as his favourite city in the Middle East. I can see the charm. It has real history, is not at all pretentious, and the souq is a proper working market. We drank at , a run down colonial hotel which has the dubious fame of having skip his bill. Agatha Cristie stayed there too (although it seems that she stayed at every old hotel in the region). Our city guide, Ahmed Modallal of Lonely Planet fame, was just so passionate about his city (we have his card if anyone wants his details).

Click on the photo below to see the set.

Middle East Trip - Syria - Krac des Chevaliers

I was looking forward to seeing the and it didn’t disappoint. It’s mystique was heightened by the rain and clouds closing in during our tour. We saw probably the most amount of tourists here during our week in Syria and as you can see by the photos, the lack of tourists was one of the reasons why I enjoyed Syria so much.

Click on the photo below to see the entire set.

Middle East Trip - Syria - بصرى‎

was an unexpected pleasure on our second day and a great introduction to Syria. It was not on the itinerary and felt quite special, mostly because the people still lived in some fantastic Roman ruins. A Christian chapel that was home to , who encountered Muhammad in his youth, is considered one of the first Christian churches, lay in ruins. We ate fantastic food and slept on the floor at the restaurant under the welcome sign next to the amphitheatre (see last photo in set).

Click on the photo below to see the entire set.

Middle East Trip - Jordan - عمان

Siew and I have been back a week now from our month long trip to Syria, Jordan and Egypt. It’s about time I started sorting through my photos and posting them to my Flickr account. I’m attempting to post 1 set per place and use this blog as a record of our stay.

All photos are taken with a Nikon D60 with a Nikkor 18-200 mm VR DX lens, my Dad’s equipment. My D70 was out of commission due to dust spots on the sensor that I haven’t gotten around to buying swabs for.

Here’s the first set from our first day in Amman, Jordan.


Skype credit expiry update

After I blogged about my Skype credit expiry problem I raised a support ticket and got the following response:

Hello Ben,

We apologize for the delayed response. Our goal is to respond to all customer e-mails within 72 hours, however due to a recent increase in inquiries it has taken longer to respond to you.

Thank you for your understanding and patience.

After reviewing your case we have decided to re-instate your credit. Your balance will be updated in the next 3 days.

For the future please remember that you must place one call lasting at least one whole minute every 180 days in order to keep your credit balance.

Skype is continually working to improve the notification process to make sure that our customers would remember to make this one call.

Thank you once again. Enjoy using Skype.

Should you need more assistance, feel free to contact us again; we will be glad to help.

Best regards,

Andras - Skype Support

Visit www.skype.com for latest news, updates and tips.

My Skype balance was restored. This is great customer support!

iPhone brick update

It’s about time I posted an update to my iPhone sob story. Two weeks ago I visited an Apple “Genius” at the new store in Sydney.

Despite filming the queue at the opening this was the first time inside the store itself.

The genius I saw was Bobby, who attempted to activate the phone with Siew’s SIM and my SIM without success. He inspected the headphone jack with a torch magnifier before deciding to replace the phone entirely. I made him flash the new one to 2.0.1 just in case the same thing happened again (it was a scary moment when the battery almost died during the update on the MacBook he was updating from but all is good.

I must say, however, that I expected more from a certified genius.

Some shots of the Genius bar and the new phone getting flashed are below. Note that the sign on the bar says that if you jailbreak then you have voided your warranty and cannot get support.

The experience once back home wasn’t so good however. We restored from the latest backup and all the app store apps would crash on startup. This appears to be a problem with setting app permissions on a restore (see for a jailbreak solution to this). We did a fresh install and reloaded the apps manually which worked. It’s a pain having to set everything back up the way it was however. This is what I expected the backup/restore process to remove.

I have since updated to 2.0.2 on my iPhone without issue. Siew refuses to let me update her’s.

MacBook Magic Eye part 4

Here’s a collection of MacBook Magic Eye from both Michael and I, collected over the past few weeks. The latest one was on Thursday.

For me it only seems to happen when I unplug my external monitor.

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