China trip – 1. Introduction

In the last year or so I had a real interest in China, a nation both ancient and modern on a large chunk of Asia with over a billion people.   I have heard stories about how China has the largest number of people coming to Christ, good relations with Israel, although a nation with restrictions and still officially Communist.   Today, although China is manufacturing capital of the world by a long stretch, everyone wants to do business with the Chinese as the economy is booming and folks there want to buy British and European made products.

I got offered to go on a 9 day mission trip in April 2017 to teach the Bible to current believers there in Beijing, and after a while trying to get my work to get me the time off which took me weeks, I had 16 days to use.    Later on, I found that the trip was full.   I was disappointed but as I already got a flight with Alitalia to fly Gatwick to Beijing via Rome for a real good deal of £395, I decided to make my own plans.

Getting a visa is tricky.  I left it a bit late and most sources online were recommending me get one from a Chinese travel shop in China town area of London.   This was frustrating as I had to get two lots of photos from a nearby post office, as the first ones were the wrong size.   The visa is £180.

This isn’t China, but I do like this part of London.  There are 2 maybe 3 churches of Chinese believers round here.   It would be really interesting to see what its like for Christian to live or work in this district.   I’m also keen to see how Chinese people respond to the life of Jesus.    My trip is purely a holiday and to see and document this fascinating place.

2. Beijing’s industrial aftertaste

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Build your own external USB hard disk

I got this parcel in the post today 🙂  Actually I got three as I ordered some new cables for our projector at work as well.

This item I got off ebay, its a USB external hard disk enclosure, what this means is its an external hard disk without the real hard disk inside.

I upgraded a friend’s laptop from 80gb to 250Gb recently (bought the new drive in the UK and took on the plane with me)  and now the old 80 Gigabyte unit is surplus and I was wondering what to do with it, although its a bit small its still useful for plenty of things.

Hard disks come in about 4 varieties, 3.5 inch (for desktop PCs) and 2.5 inch (for laptops) and also IDE (has two long rows of pins) and SATA (two small slightly different shaped block connectors)  This one is a 2.5″ SATA, this is good as its small and does not need its own power supply.

The USB enclosure I got is like this one.   As it came from Hong Kong directly from the factory, these things are stupidly cheap, 99p plus 1.50 postage.  There are quite a few sellers on ebay that sell small gadgety things (where postage for size of the item is practical) directly from China or Hong Kong, some of them are obviously junk and some are good.  Some are just the OEM (original equipment manufacturer, factory who make stuff on behalf of bigger companies – I have ordered a genuine power supply for an Acer laptop this week)  who can sell stuff for fraction of what you would get from a western retailer.   I would definitely avoid USB memory sticks as there is a ton of fake ones with brand name of good companies like Sandisk or Kingston and these ones I have seen are unreliable.   I decided to take a chance on this, I guess its like an online version of Poundland, except stuff takes about 2 weeks to get here (UK or Israel) from Asia.

Don’t forget if you are an ebay user from the UK (or shop in 100 odd other retailers) make sure you buy via TopCashback which I blogged on before as you can get a little bit of money back later on for free with no commitment.

Once opening it up, it even comes with a cable and little drawstring bag – and, fans of flat pack furniture will note a tiny screw driver, and some very tiny spectacle sized philips screws.

So I assembled the Toshiba 80gb drive in the little box, and just needed to snap the slim circuit board on which does the job of converting the signal into regular USB connection.

Once assembled, I plugged it in and tried it out, all working fine, just as good as a ready made unit.

This is quite an easy and fun way of reusing a spare hard disk and easy to do with no real technical knowledge, other than needing to make sure the case is the right size and interface your drive has.