My PC and Internet Problems

When I’ve posted tech issues here, some folks have been very helpful in giving me some good tips to resolve them. So I’m trying again. I’ve previously written about how insane my home internet set-up is. Some nights things are worse than others and tonight is one of those nights.

Very often, that little symbol in the task bar that shows the state of my internet connectivity has a little yellow warning sign that means “none.” What’s weird about this is that I can get to the TP-Link TL-MR3420 router through my browser. And when checking on the status, it says it’s connected to the Internet. I go downstairs and outside and all the lights that should be on and green are on and green. And the light is a steady blue on the USB 4G modem.

Bringing up a command window and trying ipconfig /release and /renew and all that has no effect. Sometimes I need to reboot the router and things are okay. Other times, even after rebooting the router, things are still not okay but they get fixed by rebooting my PC.

I’m thinking that there must be some alternate settings for the router, or some other commands I could enter into a command window, or some utility program I could get that would give me more control here and save me from time wasted on rebooting my PC and 5 devices every time I run into a problem? Any suggestions? (I’ve got Auslogics Boost Speed program and it looks at my registry and at my internet settings but it’s not coming up with anything.)

Also tonight my Internet is insanely slow. Speedtest is showing a download speed of 0.47 Mbps, whereas often I’ll get speeds of 15 Mbps or greater.  Testing against a Hong Kong server, ping is reasonable at 71 ms but I’d get better download speeds with two Dixie cups and a thread. My upload speed is actually faster than my download speed!

Sometimes I assume it’s because Smartone is throttling me because I’ve hit my 5 gig limit, but it’s after midnight, almost everyone in my village except me is asleep (and my dipshit can’t-sing-to-save-her-life upstairs neighbor, who always belts out a couple of songs after midnight before going to bed), things should be quicker than this, shouldn’t they? Sometimes this is solved by yet another PC reboot, tonight so far not.

Or is the answer that I need to replace my TP-Link router with something else? A lot of dealers I talk to like to disparage TP-Link, saying it’s China-made and that Taiwan-made stuff like D-Link would be better. I don’t want to go out and spend a thousand bucks on a new router based on speculation or the word of dealers who may simply be looking to make a sale.

Oh, and on a slightly related subject, has anyone ever bought a USB 3.0 hub that works? I’ve tried a couple of ’em and they always seem to die after a short period, even when I buy a “name” one like Lacie.


Tech Tip: Freeing Up Space on Your Hard Drive

Note that my desktop PC runs 64-bit Windows 7.  This tip may or may not be useful for people running Macs.

My C: drive is a solid state drive.  The suckers are expensive compared to traditional drives and come in much smaller sizes.  Mine is 224 gigabytes.

I’ve got things set up so that only programs go on that drive.  I’ve moved my Documents folder over to my E: drive so when I’m saving files, by default they’ll go there instead of on C.  Some programs save data to the C:/Users/xxx folder without asking, and with many you don’t have the option to choose another drive. Lazy programming, I call it.

Anyway, I noticed today that my C: drive was running out of space. I do have a lot of programs installed but even so, I didn’t think I possibly have 210 gigs worth of programs sitting there.  I searched through the drive manually (I know there are programs to help with this but I don’t have any).

What did I find?  The back-ups for all of my various iOS devices were eating up more than 80 gigabytes of the 224 gig drive.  And that was including back-ups for devices I had long since sold off.  iTunes doesn’t know you’ve sold something off and no longer need the back-up; you have to manually delete the back-up yourself.

You’ll find the folder in YourName/AppData/Roaming/Apple Computer/MobileSync. iTunes won’t let you move the back-up to another drive and the individual backup folders have “helpful” names like b0d32fecd8d1fb3c8c4efb152f1dc243a2f27798.  At least they have timestamps on them, so I figured I could safely delete the old ones.

I have 4 active iOS devices – my gf and I each have an iPhone and an iPad.  Fortunately iTunes doesn’t back up everything – that would have destroyed my hard disk.  Even so, the back-up for my 128 gig iPad (which has about 80 gigs of stuff on it at the moment) takes up 20 gigs.  On the other hand, the back-up of my gf’s 64 gig iPhone took just 600 meg.

I now have just 4 back-up folders there, one for each device, each device newly backed up in the past hour.  The total file size has gone down from over 80 gigs to 33; more than 45 gigs of space freed up.

I could “archive” these to another drive and then “restore” them if and when needed.  But then every time I go to sync, (which I do almost daily) iTunes will think there’s no backup at all and do a new one and the deleting/archive process takes a little bit of time. I’ve recovered enough space on my C: drive for now, so I’ll let them remain. I’ve got 65 gig free now – also because the last time I created a new Lightroom catalog I wasn’t paying attention and that ended up on my C drive, but that was easy enough to fix.

So anyway, if you’ve ever sold off an iPhone or iPad, find the backup folder and see how much space you can recover this way.

Windows 8?

I’ve been reading things here and there regarding Microsoft Windows 8, which was released just 2 days ago and have seen some walk-thrus on TV.  Given the relatively cheap (for Microsoft) upgrade price of US$40, I decided I want to try it out.  There’s just one thing that’s stopping me.

Most of the things I’ve read about Windows 8 on the desktop say that it can be an exercise in frustration if you don’t have a touch screen monitor.

PC Advisor (August 2012):

 Windows 8 is really all about having a touchscreen interface – so if you are buying a display for your PC, you’d be well served to get one that is equally adept at running Windows 7 and Windows 8.

Ars Technica:

Learning the list of Windows 8 keyboard shortcuts will save you more time and trouble than a touchscreen ever will, though this is not something that most normal people will have the time or patience to do.

Moving on from the core operating system, for a certain class of Windows 8 applications, touch support is not just preferable, but necessary.

Venture Beat:

So how will it work on your desktop when it lands on Oct. 26?  Based on my tests, not very well. In fact, if you’re still using a desktop PC, you’re probably going to dislike Windows 8. With Windows 8, Microsoft favors tablets, touchscreens, and laptops with modern touchpads. It works very well for these kinds of computers. Traditional desktops with a keyboard and mouse, on the other hand, have been left in the dust.

So if it’s not quite unanimous, it seem that a touch screen would be helpful.  I’ve been thinking about upgrading to a 27 inch monitor so it makes sense that I should get one that would be Win8 ready.

One further tip, also from PC Advisor:

If you’re going to choose a monitor now that you hope to later use with Windows 8, one important thing to watch out for is the design of the bezel. Because Windows 8 makes use of gestures, which require you to swipe your finger inwards from off the edge of the screen toward the centre, you’ll find that displays with raised bezels usually make it very difficult to touch the far edge of the screen.

It’s a requirement of Windows 8 certification that the bezel should be flush with the display or incorporate a 20mm border between the edge of the display and the start of the bezel.

I was in Mong Kok yesterday and went to the Mong Kok Computer Centre in search of touch screen monitors.  No one had one and no one had any idea when they would have one.

Which got me thinking about how Apple’s control over both hardware and software means that the two sides of the house are mostly synchronized (though they still have issues fulfilling demand) whereas Microsoft doesn’t seem to have properly timed things with hardware vendors.

A bit more searching today led to me an article on Neowin about two new touch screen monitors from Acer that are certified for Windows 8.  There’s the 23 inch T232HL, US$500, available in the US same day as Win8 release, and the 27 inch T272HL, US$700, available in the US at some point in November.

Okay, fine, zip on over to the Acer web site.  Yep, those monitors are listed there.  Oops, I’m on the U.S. site.  Better change country – oh good, on the country list, there’s “Hong Kong English.”  Click on that link and guess what? The Acer Hong Kong home page is in Traditional Chinese with no option to change language.  Idiots.

Google Translate to the rescue.  Neither the T232HK nor the T272HL are listed on Acer’s Hong Kong site, no “coming soon,” no nothing.

I know this stuff is coming.  And it’s not like I need to upgrade to Windows 8 today or even this week.  And I probably shouldn’t be spending money on a new monitor right now anyway.  It’s just frustrating that “Asia’s World City” gets treated like a second-tier market even by Chinese companies.

How to Back Up Your Facebook Photos

I’ve recently changed my back-up strategy slightly.  I was keeping all of my photos and my iTunes folder on a 2 terabyte drive – actually 2 terabyte drives configured to mirror each other.  I also use Backblaze to back up everything to the cloud, figuring that off-site back-up for my photos is important.  My drive was starting to fill up and I thought about simply getting another RAID set-up (I’ve got 5 of them now).  But then I realized that I don’t save new stuff to my Photos folder or iTunes more than once or twice a day and that RAID was probably way overkill.

So instead I went out and got a 3 terabyte Seagate Backup Plus USB 3.0 drive.

I figured I’d use the included back-up software to schedule a back-up every night and that would take care of things.  One thing I didn’t know – and the guy who sold me the drive also didn’t know – is that Seagate’s software can be set for “continuous” back-up.  Just leave it running and it will back stuff up almost immediately after any write or modification.

One other thing the Seagate software does is pretty cool.  It can log into your social networks and download all of the photos you’ve uploaded there.  This is a big thing for me and I suspect potentially a big thing for other people as well.

So I now have folders with all 5,000+ photos I’ve uploaded to Facebook – and it was done with just a couple of mouse clicks.  It also offers options for Flickr (didn’t seem to work for me – only two photos got downloaded, need to see what went wrong) and Youtube.  Presumably they’ll add in other social networks in the future.

I have zero idea if the software from other companies’ drives does something similar.  In the past, I’ve always ignored this stuff.  Maybe WD or LaCie or others also cover it but I can’t say.  And probably there’s software you can get that will do the same thing without a hardware purchase.  But seriously, hard disks are probably the thing in your computer that fails most often and if you’re not backing up your data on a regular basis, you’ll have only yourself to blame if someday you lose everything.

I can say that the Seagate drives are pretty reasonably priced.  The 3 TB USB 3.0 drive goes for US$149 (order from Amazon).  They also make 1 TB and 2 TB versions, USB 2.0 and Firewire on different editions as well.



Random Notes

While I was on the fence about Pizzeria Publico after my first visit there, I found it much improved on my 2nd.  Tonight was my 3rd, this time with my gf.  We both had a slice of the sausage pizza and agreed that the crust was superior to Paisano’s.  However she prefers Paisano’s sauce while I think PP’s is vaguely more New York-ish.  We also tried their meatball parmigiana sub and agreed that the meatballs are really nicely done.  PP is loud as fuck inside but if you can score one of the few outdoor tables, it’s a rather pleasant place to sit and let some time go by.

Then the somewhat weird experience of being recognized from the blog – long story that I won’t go into.  The guy did say something along the lines of, tomorrow I’ll probably read about you meeting some weirdo on the street – luckily he wasn’t at all weird, so I figure he deserves a mention here although names have been omitted to protect the innocent.  I then had to explain to my gf why 3 or 4 years ago it was a big deal to me that people shouldn’t be able to connect “Spike” with the real-life me but these days it’s not.  Not only do I have a photo of me over at Spike’s Photos, my About Me page is under my real name and links to both of my blogs.

Later that night, the odd experience of being in Amazonia watching the new band there and the female lead singer was using her iPhone for the song lyrics, so the weird visual of watching a band whose singer was staring at her phone while she was singing.  And not weird in a good way.  Though it was probably the high point of being there.  If you’re not drinking (I was driving) and you’re not chasing after women, Wanchai can be a seriously boring place to be.  I actually ended up sitting in the corner in the back doing stuff on my iPhone though I have to admit there were a couple of times when the view was rather pleasant there.

Part two of my series on shooting the HK skyline is now live on Photohead Online.  Please check it out!

Hey, if you use Chrome as your desktop browser, then you gotta check it out on iOS.  Not only will it sync your bookmarks (and presumably passwords, though I didn’t try anything that required that), it will actually sync with whatever you left open in your desktop browser and it looks like it can also access your recent search history.  For me, this is going to be incredibly useful.  I’ve already pushed the Safari icon to the last screen and put the Chrome icon on the first screen.  I’m that impressed.

My MacBook Pro with Retina Display shipped today.  Presuming that DHL won’t deliver on a Saturday, I should have it Monday, which is the same day we’re seeing Dark Knight Rises. No, I’m not being put off from the film by the coincidence that some lunatic opened fire on a crowd and it happened to be outside a movie house where DKR is playing.  I’m far more put off by this:

So I won’t be buying any imitation Kim Kardashian dresses any time soon.

Tuesday – Stone Roses in Hong Kong.  Been reading the reviews in NME.  Have located audience tapes from the first two shows, sound isn’t great but they sound really good.

Wednesday I’m heading down to Bangkok for some meetings.  This will be my first time in Bangkok in about 4-1/2 years.  I don’t think work will leave me much free time but if it does, I need to track down tattoo great Jimmy Wong (he did most of my ink) though from some searching I’ve done it appears he’s finally retired and in that case I hope to see his daughter Joy (who did one of my tattoos) just to say hello to her and pass greetings back to the family.  Those of you who’ve been with this blog for a long time know that I used to go to Bangkok just about every other month and Jimmy’s shop was like a clubhouse.  He’d turn up for work around 10 or 11 PM, we’d take turns getting beers from the 7-11 next door and then around 2 AM or so when he was ready to call it a day, we’d go to one of the many outdoor quasi-legal all night “My Bar” spots along Sukhumvit and watch night turn into day.

One thing that I’ll definitely be bringing to Bangkok will be my new B&W P3 headphones.  I love the B&W P5’s but they’re just too large to go into my normal “day bag”.  I went up to the B&W showroom the other day (the only place that’s selling them in HK) to try them out and a quick demo in the shop told me they sounded pretty good.  Later, at home, I couldn’t believe just how good they sound.  The ear pieces are at least 1/3rd smaller than on the P5’s, maybe only half as large.  They have some kind of fabric covering rather than the ultra-soft leather on the P5’s and they fold up into a hard plastic carrying case.  I’d read that these are not just smaller P5’s, that they’d been redesigned from the ground up, and I do believe it’s true.  I listened to some Steely Dan, some Miles Davis, some Kraftwerk – they sound amazing across the entire spectrum and far more powerful bass than any can this size has a right to have.  Could it be that the P3 sounds better than the P5?  They got a 5 star review from What HiFi.  But I haven’t done any comparison between the two and over at CNet their reviewer loves the P3 but prefers the P5.  “… the P5 really is a better, in a more refined-sounding sort of way, headphone. It sounds like a more expensive version of the P3, and that’s what it is. ”  Okay, maybe it’s the P5s for the trip, but the P3s are now my go-to cans for every day use.

Okay, I’m up waaaay too late tonight.  So I’ll just leave you with this amazing photo that I snagged from Dangerous Minds.  Yes, it’s Harpo Marx and Amelia Earhart.


Hey Apple – What’s New?

I’ve been waiting for Apple’s new product announcements, as any proper Apple fan boi should.  Now that it’s done, I’m a bit bewildered.

My MacBook Air is now a couple of generations old.  The chip is an Intel 1.86 GHz Core 2 Duo.  It runs Adobe Lightroom okay (though to be honest, I haven’t tried to open any of the Nikon D800’s 70 meg RAW files with it) but I wonder how acceptable the performance would be with Photoshop.

The new MacBook Air seems to me to offer only a minor upgrade from the previous generation but a significant upgrade from what I have – in terms of faster CPUs (a choice of Core i5 or i7 chips) and improved graphics.  Plus there’s that Thunderbolt port and an upgrade from USB 2.0 to 3.0.  The physical size, weight and battery life are still the same.  The price of the 13 inch model is US$100 less than the previous generation.  US$999 for the 11 inch screen, US$1,199 for the 13 inch screen. 2.96 pounds.  It’s tempting. Engadget has a chart comparing the new MBA to the previous generation here.

Confusion sets in because at the same time Apple announced refreshes to their MacBook pro line.  They’ve made them both more “MacBook Air-like” by slimming them down and reducing the weight, mostly by getting rid of the DVD drive and offering solid state disk options as well as the more traditional disk.  But these suckers are still relatively heavy and they ain’t cheap.

It’s also a little bit confusing.  There is a choice between 13 inch and 15 inch screens.  Improved graphics.  And not cheap.

The 13 inch starts at US$1,199 for the basic model; US$1,499 gets you a 2.9 GHz Core i7 chip and a 750 gig hard disk.  4.5 pounds.

The 15 inch models start at US$1,799 and go up to US$2,199.  You get a bigger screen and a heavier box (5.6 pounds), two Thunderbolt ports instead of one.

But wait … there’s “one more thing”.  There’s also a 15 inch MacBook Pro with a 2880 X 1800 retina display.  This one only comes with a solid state drive so the weight is 4.46 pounds compared to the 5.6 pounds of the “regular” 15 inch MacBook Pro.  The starting price on this one is US$2,199 and it goes up to $2,799.  Sorry, I gotta say, in 2012, that’s a lot of money for a laptop.

Engadget has a chart comparing the new MacBook Pro line here.

For me, the primary considerations remain size and weight.  If it’s small enough and light enough, I’ll take it with me every day without having to think twice about it.  If it’s big and heavy, I’ll decide more often than not to leave it at home.

So for me, the decision may come down to the 13 inch MacBook Air vs. the 13 inch MacBook Pro.

* Air – 2.96 pounds, upgradeable to Dual Core i7 2 GHz (with “Turbo Boost up to 3.2 GHz”), Intel HD Graphics 4000, 128 gig solid state drive (HK$12,988 with the CPU upgrade and upgrading the memory to 8 gig).

* Pro – 4.5 pounds, Dual Core i7 2.9 GHz (3.6 GHz with Turbo Boost), 750 gig hard disk (HK$12,268 if I swap out the hard disk for a 128 gig solid state drive).

So for roughly the same price, I can get a box that’s 50% heavier but also presumably 50% faster.  (I know, there are other factors in execution speed aside from just the CPU.)  I think I’ll wait until there are some reviews and benchmarks out there before making any decisions.

Also announced were updates to the iPhone/iPad’s iOS operating system.  You can see lists of some of the new features on The Verge and at Lifehacker. From what I’ve read so far, almost everything falls under the category of “nice to have” rather than “must have.”

Oh, almost forgot to mention – the latest version of Apple’s Mac OS, OS X Mountain Lion, ships next month.  US$20.  Buy one copy and install it on as many Macs as you have for no extra charge.  Microsoft will take note of this – and ignore it.


Why People Pirate Software

I used to be big on using pirated software.  But I work in the computer industry.  I don’t want people pirating my work.  And so I’m 100% legal software these days.  But now I feel like I am being pushed back to piracy again.

I build my own computers.  And when I built my last one, I purchased a legal OEM copy of Windows 7.  A little while ago, I zotzed out my motherboard by doing something so stupid that I’m not going to tell you about it.  Take it as played that I did something really stupid. It short-circuited several of the ports on the board.  For awhile I was doing work-arounds but this past week I got tired of that and went out and bought a new motherboard.

One day after getting the system up and running, I get a message on screen that I need to reactivate my software.  Okay.  I type in the license key.  After a few minutes, back to screen 1.  So I type it in again.  Again, nothing.  So I select the option for using the automated phone system for activation.  Then the screen spits out at me nine six-digit numbers.

I call the phone number.  I punch in all 54 numbers.  I get a message telling me that the software has previously been activated and I get switched to a person.  I explain the situation to the person and, unfortunately, I was honest.  She tells me that since I have the OEM version and since I switched motherboards and since the motherboard is a different brand and model from the previous motherboard, I am screwed.

I say to her, as calmly as I can, that it’s the same CPU, same memory chips, same hard disk, same case, same user.  She says maybe they can make a “special case” for me.  I have to email in my information including, get this, a photo of the label with the product key.  They will get back to me in one day to let me know if they can make a “special case” for me.

Let’s see what happens next …


Yes, I know, it’s just a coincidence, but just minutes after sending my email to Microsoft, I received this in my inbox:  “Your email has been awarded Ł750,000 for being a regular user from microsoft/msn PROMO 2011 in London.”

If only life really worked that way!


So this morning Microsoft emailed me a new activation key.  But this whole experience just goes to show how customer unfocused Microsoft is.  Probably a bit more on this later, might do a post on the Steve Jobs book soon since I’ll finish it today.

HKCS & CHKCI – Can They Do Anything Right?

I’m a member of the Hong Kong Computer Society though sometimes for the life of me I can’t figure out why.   They almost never have any event that I care to join.

Every email they send has this footer:

“Best view with IE6.0″   Really?  Aside from the grammatical error, IE 6?  What year is this?  How long has even Microsoft been telling people to get the hell off IE 6 already?

Why is this there?  The answer is probably simple.  No one cares.  No one looks at it.  Who cares if it’s wrong?

Anyway, the latest mailing offers free tickets to the Hong Kong Computer & Communications Festival 2011, to be held from August 19th through 22nd at the Convention Centre.

And since it says “40 complimentary tickets” I figured I’d better click now and decide later if I intend to go.  So I click, I register, and I check my email for the confirmation, which comes from the CHKCI.

CHKCI is “The Chamber of H.K. Computer Industry.”    Well, first off, these nimrods don’t know how to set up a domain so that you don’t need to type the “www”.  “” doesn’t resolve.  What year is this?  These are computer professionals?

And here’s the header on the confirmation email they sent to me.

They got the date of their own event wrong!  The message header says it’s 19 July to 22 July.  Who makes mistakes like that?  Gets the entire month wrong?

Here’s a clip from their web site:

Can you see the tiny print on the bottom?  It reads:

Notice:  My friends email me all the time with ideas for improving Gmail.

It’s not a link or anything, it’s just text on the screen.  What the bloody hell is that?  I’m guessing it’s a placeholder someone put there when the site was first set up and no one ever looked closely enough to see that it needed updating.

Last and least (at least for now), when you select English from their menu bar, here’s what the body of their home page looks like after it reloads:

Just splendid.  I’m so rushing to pay the HK$1,800 annual dues for this esteemed group.


MacBook Air or Pro?

I’m in need of a new laptop.  Maybe “want” more than “need” but even so ….

Despite my love for iOS devices, I remain something of a Windows person, even though I’m a bit reticent to admit that.  The few times I’ve “switched” to Mac in the past were never quite comfortable experiences for me.  But the times have changed – so much of what I do on a computer now is in a browser window that the OS starts to pale into insignificance.  Except that Mac manages memory better than Windows.  And I love the multi-touch gestures on the Mac trackpad.  (No, I’m not interested in Linux.)   I don’t see any serious hardware competition on the PC side for Macs at the moment.  Samsung is about to come out with a light weight notebook that will be serious competition for the MacBook Air but the base price will be US$1,700.

I do have a 2 year old MacBook (not Pro).  A year ago I gave it to my gf and I think if I tried to get it back I’d risk losing a hand (or worse).

So the question then becomes what to buy.  MacBook Pro – heavier duty specs than the Air but how heavy duty do I need to get?  I’m not a gamer, I’m not crunching huge spreadsheets, I’m not writing code.  The Pro line is rumored to be receiving an update next month, to Intel’s new Sandy Bridge processor.  Nice.

But weight is really important to me.  As in LIGHT weight.  That would seem to indicate the Air is a better choice for me than the Pro.  But which Air?  For size and weight, obviously the 11 inch model is the winner.  But the 11 inch only comes with a 1.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor – this can be upgraded to a 1.6 GHz if one chooses the 11 inch model with the 256 gig solid state drive.  The base on the 13 inch is a  1.86 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, which seems like it ought to be noticeably better.   (That in turn is upgradeable to a 2.13 GHz processor, again only if you get the 256 gig SSD.)   Base memory is 2 gigs of RAM but you can get a unit with 4 gigs.

What am I going to run on it?  A browser.  iTunes.  MS Office.  Maybe Drupal.  Adobe Lightroom – that’s the one that has me concerned.  How does it perform on a 1.86 processor?  Also planning to tether my DSLR to the laptop.  Nikon makes great software for that and there’s even a third party app that allows you to connect via iPhone or iPad once you’re tethered to the laptop.

Yesterday I actually dropped into a couple of places in Wanchai.  None of them had the Air in stock with 4 gigs of RAM; one shop told me there’s a two week waiting period at the moment.   I did think about doing some shopping in Central or Causeway Bay or Mong Kok today but the weather’s just too crappy.   Monday, Monday ….

Hmmm, just found this:  “Working with large RAW files on the ’Air is definitely not recommended.”   Yikes.

Move Because My Internet is Slow?

Backblaze is telling me that it “may not be for you.”  Even after excluding all my mp3 and avi files and excluding most of my external drives, it’s still looking to back up 643 gig.  It reports that it will need 132 days to finish the initial back up.   Yes, I’ve moved the slider on the control panel to the fastest setting.   I just did their bandwidth test and my upload speed is 0.4 mbps per day, which certainly would explain things.  Download speed is 3 mbps – I have an 8 mbps connection, which I believe is the fastest one can get where I live – and then there is the issue of physical distance from their servers in the US, latency, etc.

So should I move to get faster internet?  On HK island, in some places, you can get a 1 gig line for US$26 per month.  That’s almost ludicrously cheap and only possible because the density of HK Island (and presumably most of Kowloon?) makes it relatively inexpensive to wire fiber optic.

I’m thinking about moving anyway.  The long and expensive commute, all the times I go out after work and can only drink coke because I’ve got the car, the notion of wanting to try some new restaurants but not wanting to drive an hour each way (or spend HK$200 each way for taxis) just for dinner isn’t appealing, won’t need a car if I’m in a more urban area and so on.  Not to mention the fact that any time my maid needs to go grocery shopping, I have to pay for taxis.  Any time my gf is going out without me, she’s gotta pay for taxis.

Big problem I suppose is my two dogs.  If I move to the concrete jungle, there’s nowhere green to walk them, nowhere they can run off leash, unless I’m spending time on the weekends to take them to places like Sai Kung.

And then there’s the issue of wanting what I consider to be a decent sized flat and not a shoebox but stuck on a limited budget.  “Mid Levels West” seems to have some stuff that would be a fit.  Maybe Tin Hau or thereabouts.  And a friend who just moved to Prince Edward Road on the Mong Kok/Kowloon City border tells me he’s got 1690 square feet for $31k per month.  I like the proximity to Mong Kok, though it’s still quite a ways over to Cyberport.

Wish that Kennedy Town worked for me, but it seems the only flats there over 900 square feet are in The Belchers and go for $40k per month.  And I may be a belcher but do I want to live in a place with that name?   Pok Fu Lam is very expensive, very close to the office but isolated from everything else.

Fortunately I have some time to think about this.  I just hope that rents haven’t shot up another 20% while I’m trying to make up my mind.