Monday, 7 September 2009

"The Amazing Race 15" starts Sunday, 27 September 2009

The next season of The Amazing Race , the reality TV show about travel around the world, premieres in the USA with a 2-hour episode of The Amazing Race 15 on CBS-TV on Sunday evening, 27 September 2009 (8-10 p.m. ET/PT, 7-9 p.m. CT/MT).

As I’ve been doing since the start of the first season on 5 September 2001, I’ll have weekly commentary on the lessons real-world travellers can learn from the race here in my blog, and in my e-mail newsletter. (See the box in the upper right corner of the Web page to subscribe.)

If you aren’t in the USA, or you miss an episode for some reason, CBS now has streaming video of the full episodes on their Web site — and in a format that doesn’t require MSIE or Windows, and works in Opera or Firefox under Linux on my Asus EEE-PC netbook.

While I’m on the subject of netbooks (the subject of a longer feature article I’ve been working on for ages): Both Dell (who never really understood the market for netbooks for travellers anyway) and Asus have recently discontinued their smallest, lightest, and sturdiest netbooks — the ones that were best for hard-core travellers — in favor of larger, heavier, more fragile models less suited for travellers. If you’ve been thinking about getting a netbook for your next trip, currently has listings from closeout and surplus dealers for what’s probably the tail end (at least in the USA) of refurbished 7” and 9”-screen EEE-PC’s for as little as US$120 plus taxes and shipping. The cases for the 7” and 9” models are essentially the same size, so if your budget extends to US$200, I highly recommend the EEE-PC model 901, the most powerful of its size and the model I paid full price for a few months back (after using my travelling companion’s 7” EEE-PC 8G for the previous year). The models on sale now will probably come with Windows, but if you feel up to it I strongly recommend switching to Asus’ Xandros Linux distribution. You can get a tech-savvy friend to install it for you if you aren’t sure how to do it yourself. Once it’s installed it’s no more difficult to use than Windows, probably easier for basic tasks, and much more reliable. The vast majority of cybercafé computers have Windows viruses that infect flash drives, and promiscuous exchange of flash devices (USB drives or digital camera memory cards) in cybercafés — a necessity for most world travellers, at least at times — is almost certain to give a Windows netbook or laptop a hard-to-remove assortment of viral infections. Next year’s netbooks will undoubtedly be cheaper and more powerful, but they may not be as small — you still pay a heavy price premium for computers smaller than a standard netbook.

Link | Posted by Edward on Monday, 7 September 2009, 11:48 (11:48 AM)

I have an IBM (Lenovo) S10 netbook, and it is fantastic. I think a 10" screen is the best "all around" size for a travelling netbook -- anything smaller and it's too difficult to read/use.. anything bigger and it is just too big for slapping around in a backpack.

I've used both a 7" and 9" eee before, and found the screen just annoying. Yes, it's smaller.. but still, it has to be usable I think. And anything smaller then 10" just isn't worth the eyestrain unless you're only using it for 5 minutes per day.

It weighs 2 pounds, and the battery lasts for 3 hours.

The build quality of the IBM/Lenovo machine is very high, and it feels sturdy instead of like a toy.

I paid $250 USD for mine, brand new from the vendor a year ago, and have travelled with it in my backpack for the last 6 months.

Posted by: Jim, 8 September 2009, 00:05 (12:05 AM)

Unfortunately none of the CBS streaming videos are available outside of the US. Hulu videos are also unavailable. So there's no way for those of us residing elsewhere to watch episodes of The Amazing Race legally.

Posted by: maki, 11 September 2009, 19:55 ( 7:55 PM)

Thanks for letting me know -- I haven't had a chance to try from abroad since CBS started putting the full-episode videos online. Do they block by IP address? Might it work through proxies? A lot of people interested in The Amazing Race live in places where it isn't broadcast.

Posted by: Edward Hasbrouck, 12 September 2009, 11:41 (11:41 AM)

Yes, they do seem to block by IP address. I have tried using anonymous proxies, but they don't really work well for streaming video, probably due to speed issues. It's really a pet peeve of mine, since I'm an expat American (living in France at the moment) who would love to pay or do something to legally watch The Amazing Race and some other U.S. shows. I guess the only way to watch TAR legally outside of North America is to set up a Slingbox type arrangement at the home of a relative or someone in the U.S.

Posted by: maki, 12 September 2009, 11:56 (11:56 AM)

I second the rec for the EEE 901. I work on the OLPC XO's, which I find a godsend for hard-wear travel (the handle is handy for use while in motion), but they're not available for retail.

I look forward to more companies taking up the call for better smaller tougher notebooks -- more everyday tool than specialty gadget.

Posted by: Samuel Klein, 28 September 2009, 18:30 ( 6:30 PM)

Samuel: The OLPC XO has been (and maybe will be again?) available intermittently under a "Give One, Get One" program, or second-hand, and John Gilmore, who has worked on the OLPC project, lent me one to test for a couple of months. I agree that the hardware is more rugged than any commercial competitor (although either the small eee's or the original Psion netBook are the next best), but I found both the hardware and software of the OLPC XO -- which are designed, and designed well, for educational use for children -- not to be as well suited for what I think are the priorities of most travellers.

Posted by: Edward Hasbrouck, 28 September 2009, 18:40 ( 6:40 PM)
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