Into the wild: geeking in Oman

A few days ago we celebrated the Prophet’s birthday with a 3 day weekend, allowing me time to head into the mountains for an extended trip. Just one problem: the qualification round of Google Code Jam Africa Arabia fell on Thursday, and there would be no internet access at the remote cliffs. I briefly considered foregoing the experience, but with the valuable prize of a t-shirt at stake, the geek force in me was too strong to resist. I managed to get two brief climbs under my belt before making off with the Jeep to head back to civilization, leaving my companions alone in the middle of Nowhere, Oman.

Worried that the border crossing would have heavy delays due to the holiday, I stopped at an Omani gas station and was delighted to find that I had a strong 3G signal from across the border. I opened my laptop, plugged everything in, and… disaster! The cheapo power inverter was broken! I glanced at my laptop’s power meter: 88%, 2 hours and 30 minutes.

I quickly started working on the problems, racing against the battery. The first two problems went quite well, though it had been difficult to concentrate with giant trucks honking and making 3 6 point turns in spaces that were far too close to the Jeep. It was also getting quite warm, with the laptop dissipating its limited energy as heat. I rolled down the windows, but the mosquitoes and flies quickly changed my mind. “No sweat,” I thought, as I had just one more problem to complete.

That last problem took me 1.5 hours, and left my battery at 8%. I was drenched in my bodily fluids. I had qualified.

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