Nov 22 2011

#Russia making it illegal to s…

Category: TweetsChrisM @ 4:00 pm

#Russia making it illegal to say #gay in the street? Help us support activists & push leaders to speak out NOW:

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Oct 16 2011

Problem, Constitution? (Russia…

Category: TweetsChrisM @ 5:45 am

Problem, Constitution? (Russian)

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Nov 12 2010

Translating The Basics

Category: Windows MobileChrisM @ 8:43 pm

I’m combining a couple of reviews into one post here, as the Windows Mobile applications are very similar. They both place a convenient interface for online translation services, so if you are in a foreign city, or accessing a document in a language other than your own, you can quickly get the gist of what is written.
Obviously using free automated translation services means the meanings won’t always be precise (does that phrase refer to a hot curry or a proper colon cleanser?), however they should be good enough to give you an idea of what you are dealing with. W0lf Translator has a basic interface, and will attempt to detect which language your source is in, if you don’t already know.
The other program I have installed is dV2tTranslator – which is like w0lf’s app, but you can choose one of two services to use, and has a basic text to speech option (I don’t know about European languages, but can confirm that English works, and Russian doesn’t. This may be a unicode issue, or the created MP3s might only have English rules pre-written). It also has a more modern looking interface (less Windows Mobile 2003, more HTC’s Sense, in terms of style).

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Nov 03 2010

Karra And Others

Category: Dasha&Kittens,PersonalChrisM @ 9:57 pm

This morning, while Anna and I were at her regular Wednesday kindergarten, Astana TV ran a piece on black cats that I mentioned previously. Someone somewhere recorded it via a camcorder hooked up to the RCA outputs on a cable box, and left me the tape.
Anna, Muska, Karra and I all make a brief appearance (given that she has black fur and is a cat, Karra was on screen for the longest 🙂 ). Now all I have to do is hope some kind soul with a disposable YouTube account uploads it soon, so I can embed the video here!
The journalist is obviously speaking in Russian, so I’ll hopefully find a version with English subtitles. On a related note, checking YouTube will be a faster experience for us from next month, as we have upgraded to MegaLine’s Turbo Plus account, meaning we will get our first 20Gb per month at a speed of 1 to 8 Mbit/sec. Again, as with our current 1Mbit account, after those 20Gb have been exceeded, the speed will be throttled down again.
Hooray for faster internet! Though I’ll have to be careful as we will soon be able to exceed our monthly limit within about three hours of the first day of the month!

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Oct 28 2010

Friends, Guns, Roses And Burgers

Category: Eating Out,Friends,PicturesChrisM @ 2:35 am

These are the pictures I previously mentioned. DanD, Walton and I all met up with DanC (who was back in Astana for the weekend) for a meal and a few drinks. Although DanD and I had already been to this bar since the Guns n’ Roses chain had taken it over from Northwind’s management, we weren’t sure if the prices, ambience, layout and staff attentiveness were all just boosted for their opening week, or whether we could consider adding it to our list of regular haunts.
As it turned out, the G n’ R management seem to have noticed all the little issues that prevented North Wind from ever really filling up with customers, and addressed them from the very start. The layout of the bar and surrounding tables has been changed, the prices, whilst not cheap, are certainly a lot more reasonable than previously, and the menu (in both English and Russian) has enough variety (from traditional Western bar food to steaks and garlic bread) to meet most people’s needs. Both times we have been there, there was live music and the normal tables were full up with people enjoying themselves. Finally, the dance floor was occupied most of the evening.

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Oct 21 2010

Easter Breads

Category: Anna's PhotosChrisM @ 3:04 am

The 4th of April was around Easter this year (I’m assuming that is Russian Orthodox’s date for Easter, as they still use the Julian calendar for (movable?) feast days). Anyway, it was definitely the 4th of April using the Gregorian calendar, and Anna seemed to like the day, especially when she had her very own iced Easter bread to herself. As you can tell from the photos (caviar anyone? 🙂 ), we were over at Irina’s parents’ house, and although not religious, they do celebrate Russian Christmas and Easter each year. I think that in years past people would hand decorate boiled eggs, but here they are in pretty plastic covers that I’m assuming save a lot of preparation time, meaning more Easter iced bread could be made. I know which I prefer!

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Sep 16 2010

Ony Vsur Derjit Kazakhstan Bezopasnom

Category: In The Media,Kazakhstan,VideosChrisM @ 2:11 am

I’ve attempted to spell out this post’s title in Latin characters, as the following Cyrillic characters will probably just appear as question marks still. ??? ??? ?????? ????????? ??????????.

First we have what appears to be a promotional video for the Kazakh navy, though it doesn’t actually exist yet. Hat tip to EurasiaNet for the video below and also this related article regarding orders for patrol boats and corvettes. I’ll just pretend I know what a corvette is for now 🙂 The Kazakh coast guard already exists on the Caspian sea, however a fully fledged navy would be able to sail further out, and obviously also be a visible deterrent to any ne’er do wells interested in Kazakh properties and installations.

I decided to check out the YouTube account that had uploaded this video, and found an interesting selection there.

Kazakh Special Forces – interesting that you only seem to see Kazakh faces there, I didn’t notice any Russians under the camo paint.

Here we have the Kazakh Presidential Guard, though the footage must be a little dated, as I believe that is Pope John Paul II being greeted around a minute into the clip, and our dearly beloved Glorious Leader President Nazarbayev looks a little younger at around the 3:45 mark. I’m not going to point out the ceremonies involved, especially as Britain has a similar set up with changing of the guard etc. in London. That said, I can’t help notice the Soviet style marching each time I watch this. I think this is from CCCP/USSR days, or do many other countries copy this style? There is a small section of non-ceremonial action at around 5:10.

If you have any military, specifically Air Force knowledge, I’d appreciate you taking a look at the follow clip. It is entitled “Kazakh Air Force strike the Manas Base”, but some of the footage (especially of the bombers taken from lower in the sky) seem to have been collected from other operations. Not as bad as one of the other videos on the channel that definitely had hollywood movie footage cut in to it. Anyway, feel free to leave an anonymous comment if you could clear up this query.

Finally, after all the military themed clips, we have a little b-boy action…

OK, I lied, I couldn’t leave you without this brilliant tribute to our most esteemed leader. I will not be writing anything negative about him here, nor publishing comments that contain insults, because of legal constraints in this country, and also due to the fact that there is nothing negative to write about him, his political party and the policies currently in force here. Obviously.
I should point out the use of the “Eye of the Tiger” could be misleading.
Face to face, out in the heat. Hangin’ tough, stayin’ hungry. They stack the odds ’til we take to the street….
You see you can not hold a protest on the street without applying for, and receiving the relevant permits. Perhaps we should alter the lyrics to ensure no Kazakh citizens are led astray?

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Sep 15 2010

A Real Manager

Category: PersonalChrisM @ 8:19 pm

I was playing with PockeTwit yesterday, checking if all the features still worked OK, when I ran my saved search for tweets that mention Cheltenham. (For those that have only come to know me and this site since moving to Kazakhstan, I a lot of my childhood years in Cheltenham, after moving from Yeovil before secondary school.) Ignoring the tweets that were obviously for a Cheltenham in America (which apparently has a shopping mall that teenagers love to write about, and the residents there seem to think a local town is far inferior to their version of a Cheltenham), I came across some vacancies for customer service jobs, more specifically technical support manager. I favourited the tweet (I check twitter on my phone whilst having a smoke, and look up any interesting links on a PC later) just to see what the details were. It turned out the agency was based in Cheltenham, but the job was in London. The salary wasn’t too bad, and to my surprise I only lacked one essential skill, and ticked quite a few of the desired ones. I’m not sure right now if I’d want to be in a management role when we return to Britain (or if I’d be selected), but it was reassuring that there are jobs that pay a living wage or more that I could at least feasibly get an interview for!
This post’s title refers to a point that was raised during the last English club I ran where locals reminded me that the title manager does not infer the same job responsibilities over here at all. You will most likely not be in charge of anyone, and can be quite junior within an organization and still be a “manager” in Russian.

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Aug 07 2010

Petropavlovsk Photos

Category: Kazakhstan,Personal,PicturesChrisM @ 1:52 pm

This is the area around Aunty Sveta’s place in Petropavlovsk (I think the government now wants it to be called Petropavl, but most people I spoke to still add the ovsk. This area of Kazakhstan is very close to Russia, so it is possible that the renaming is an attempt to make it sound more Kazakh).

View Larger Map

The EDGE (think about GPRS v2.5 🙂 ) connection maxed out at 16kbit/sec (about three times slower than old fashioned dial up internet access on computers), consequently I unable to upload shots to twitpic until I returned to Astana.

Travelling From Petropavlovsk's Airport Into Town

Travelling From Petropavlovsk's Airport Into Town

Urban Area Of Petropavlovsk

Urban Area Of Petropavlovsk

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Aug 07 2010

AFK – Petropavlovsk Trip

Category: PersonalChrisM @ 12:17 am

AFK being away from keyboard, but as Petropavlovsk is quite a long word, I thought I’d abbreviate. Aunty Sveta has her 60th birthday this weekend, so we are heading over there to celebrate it with her. I’ve not published any photos or videos from that city (just over an hour away via plane, Anna would not be likely to be in a party mood after a long drive there) before, so I’m hoping to Tweet/Qik some sort of media whilst there. Meticulous planning by Irina has ensured we’re travelling as light as possible, with all likely problems sorted in advance. Anyway, if posts appear on the blog suddenly, without much warning, of a city that doesn’t look much like Astana, you’ll know why. The city is about as far North as you can go in Kazakhstan before you hit the Russian border, and we haven’t been there since Anna was born, so it will be great to see people and hopefully have a good time celebrating Aunty Sveta’s birthday.

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