Walking the World in 7 Years & Wikivoyage

Today's road news highlights a guy crazy enough to walk the world, as well as a little piece of technology that has earned its praise, and finally a bit on the new site Wikivoyage. Pull up a stump, set your onesies down for a few minutes, and have yourself a gander...

Wait. Did he say "walk"!?: Yes, Chili Pie, el hombre did indeed say "walk". Paul Salopek already has almost two decades of experience in travel. He's currently 19 days into his seven-year journey, walking from "The Cradle of Life" and following the primary migration pattern that humans followed out of Africa, across Asia, into North America, and down to the tip of South America. You can see an estimated path for his trip that I drew on the map above. As I write this, Salopek's just north of the Horn of Africa, nearing the crossing that will take him into Saudi Arabia. Color me envious. Bastard! Mad shout out in thanks to Gaea for sending me the story. For others who are interested, read more [Here on the Main Site]. You can also read the original article [Here on NPR].

The Little Hard Drive that Could: This one's personal. I'm an electronic musician, and the only way to make music when I'm traveling is to bring an external hard drive with me. If I were rich, I could build a different solution that would replace this, but I'm the opposite of rich... so I make the best with what I have. I bought this little hard drive in 2008, and it's since been through deserts and extreme heats, and mountains and extreme cold, and it's been dropped off buses and taken some very hard hits. Every time it's hit, a part of me cringes, and I immediately think that it will be broken. Today's the day, little buddy. You served me well. I swear to avenge thee! Every other external drive I've ever owned has broken with only ONE hit. But this drive? No... not having it. It's a little fighter, that's what this drive is! I can not even count how many times it's been hit. There are scratches and dings everywhere on the drive, but it just keeps on going. Hitachi and Frabrik, the companies who sell the drive, do not even market it as a "durable" hard drive. In fact, it's cheap, running about fifty bones for a quarter of a terabyte.

Maybe I'm just lucky. Maybe I got the only hard drive in all the world that can never be broken. But you know what? I doubt that. Just last year, the same companies started selling a different external hard drive, and this new one is marketed as "durable". Really, I think they just figured out how hard it is to kill their debut drive, and so they've simply made a few additions to turn that durability into something with a little more grrrr-power. If you can't find their basic hard drive at a local store, you can get one [Here on Amazon dot Com]. I hit it hard (yes, again) just this last week and, after it survived (yes, again), I knew I had to give them props for designing one incredibly strong and durable piece of machinery. I do NOT know how they got the designer of Ferrari and Maserati to design their hard drive, but whoever built the drive to take a hit from the likes of ME, to that I person I owe my most heartfelt gratitude.

Below is a shot of my own drive, although the bad lighting doesn't well reveal the actual level of damage that it's sustained.

Wikivoyage. But will it blend?: I can not count how many people have asked me what the best travel guides are. The answer changes with who's doin' the askin'. You see, not all guides are equal, and they're written for different people. BUT! There IS actually an easy way to find the guide that is best for YOU. Step #1. Take three or five suggestions for different travel guides. Step #2. Turn the guide to your current favorite city, the city that you love the most and that you know the most about. Step #3. Read about your favorite city and, after you finish, ask yourself if you're happy with their description. Happy? THAT'S THE ONE FOR YOU! I remember reading Lonely Planet's entry for Austin, Texas, and immediately I lost all interest in Lonely Planet. But I still suggest the Planet to other people, because they're not me. Everyone's different, and the way to find the guide that's right for you is to keep reading guides until you find one that nails your favorite city, or at least leaves you happy with what they wrote.

That brings us to Wikivoyage.

We have a winner. And by "we", I mean "I". I pulled up the Wikivoyage entries for three of my favorite cities: Austin, Texas; Santa Fe, New Mexico; and, Campeche de Mexico. The entries for both Austin and Santa Fe give me warm fuzzies. I'm definitely digging what I'm reading, and I easily jump into the overall writing on the site. Austin and Santa Fe both have very extensive entries that even mention a few places that've escaped my radar before now. Whoever wrote the Austin entry has a few personal problems that mix into the writing, as they decided that the area in the article about "Safety" was where people needed to be warned that no one should give money to homeless people, the same writer who decided to spread some rather insulting opinions about the homeless. Other than a few blips along similar lines of opinion, the writing and details are solid. Because these blips are small, they remain excusable. Sadly, with the entry on Campeche, such similar opinions become much larger points where reading becomes an annoyance, as the writer for this article calls the climate hot and humid, but then goes so far as to add subjective terms like "oppressive" without actually telling what the heat is, or how much humidity there is. They then continue on to say that the heat and humidity make walking "impossible" in the city. Impossible! I jest not, lovelies. Impossible. It becomes a comedy of errors at about this point, and it's well worth reading, if at least for the laugh. There are also gaping holes in the Campeche article in terms of scope, although they get points for mentioning The Monkey Hostel and The Pirate Hostel.

In summary, Wikivoyage is new, having only been re-launched as of January, 2013. Based on my own readings, the articles for well-traveled areas are where there's the most notable strengths in terms of both readability and usefulness. Off the beaten path, those are the same areas where the articles suffer most. It's now directly affiliated with Wikimedia, which raises the bar for where the site's headed, and setting high hopes for expanding the content in the future. Wikivoyage plays beautifully with my own palette, and I highly suggest it to other travelers who've more of an alternative or "explorer" bent to their spirit.

The Passions of Blood, Smoke, and Fire: It's been seven years since Burial's debut album changed the world of electronic music... permanently changing the course of the future garage genre. I've been a DJ for more than a decade, but it wasn't until 2012 that I started mixing future garage. My first digital set--The Passions of Blood, Smoke, and Fire--is now available for free download [Here on SoundCloud]. The response has been incredible. DJ Umb at Generation Bass wrote: "This is Burialesque in all its glory harking back to the great golden days when Dubstep was such an exciting proposition." I'm honored. Enjoy the music!

"Dorothy" by Giyo: Mad shout outs in thanks to LiLi for turning me on to today's Song of the Day. It's up for free download, at least while the downloads last. If you love the smooth beats and Spanish guitar in this song as much as I do, then just [Click Here to Download].