(How to open blocked ports to play steam games at the end of the post)

I was really excited about the residence that I chose in Lyon, because the website said that it would have unlimited adsl internet. I was really looking forward to playing euro TF2 gathers with an amazing ping. When I arrived, though, the internet wasn’t working at all! The first night was very difficult sans internet.

I’m proud to say that I am almost certain that I was the only person to arrive with their own cat5/ethernet cord! You definitely learn a lot from going to LAN parties! When the internet finally did work, Steam still wouldn’t load for me. A week later, it miraculously let me login and use steam friends, which was nice, because I really missed all of my gaming friends. I wanted to say hello to them over ventrilo, but I wasn’t able to reach any servers- the American one I used to frequent or even the European one used for gathers. I went to a couple of websites to check which ports I had open, and the only was essentially 80, which is used for surfing the web.

I got the phone number of the network admin, and he answered my first phone call and gave me his email address, but it didn’t work at all when I tried to contact him to ask him to open a few ports for my MAC address. I tried to call him again to clarify his email address, but he started ignoring my calls, which left me without many options.

When I first arrived I tried connecting to my canadian university’s vpn through the Cisco vpn client, but the port to run that program was blocked, too. One of my friends told me about the VPN service Perfect Privacy, but it was a bit too pricey for my tastes.

I did some searching, and I came across Strong VPN and it has been really great. I checked out a couple of cheaper VPN services, but they would take days to answer my questions, whereas I would receive a response from Strong VPN within minutes. I am paying $45 for 3 months (no set-up fee special). I have been able to play TF2 again, and it felt absolutely amazing to play it for the first time in almost 2 weeks; I definitely felt a surge of adrenaline pumping through my veins; it’s funny how you lose that sensation when you play it everyday. I have to play with a ping of 100 which is not ideal, but it’s better than no gaming at all. I am happy to be getting better download speeds for torrents when running the VPN.

I would definitely recommend paying for a VPN service if you are also a gamer or geek who wants ultimate internet freedom; there are tons of VPN companies out there, so check around, and see which one offers servers located near you 🙂

Food in France

February 7, 2009

Living in France has not only been a brand new experience for me due to the new setting, but also because it is my first time in a different country, and my first time ever living away from my family… unless you count going away for a week in summer camp!

Besides the people, food is easily one of the things that I miss most from Canada. My Mom is an excellent cook, and I was very spoiled to never really have to lift a finger; there was always a delicious meal prepared every evening. I would help out sometimes with the meals that required more preparation, but for the most part I was never really involved in the cooking.

At home, the only time I really spent in the kitchen on my own was to bake and to make fudge. I love baking cookies, cakes, naan bread, etc. for my friends and my family. I quickly learned, though, that this was not a good way to stay thin- even though I wasn’t technically baking for myself, I would always have to sample just to make sure that they passed Quality Assurance 😉 I’m lucky that I don’t have an oven in France, but there is a bakery on every corner, so the temptation is there all the same ><

Luckily before I asked my mom to show me how to make curry chicken and rice using a curry sauce that I bought at Loblaws. It was pretty delicious ^^ When I first arrived in France I had no real cooking utensils, so I ate cereal for almost every meal. After I acquired a pot and a pan, though, and life was good hehe. I also found a curry sauce at the big supermarket here (Carrefour) and I had curry chicken and rice probably 4 times that week. I’m a bit sick of it already… I think it’s because Tiki Masala is probably my least favourite curry sauce.

To change things up I used tomato sauce instead of curry a few times to make a chicken cacciatore type meal. It wasn’t bad! To keep things fresh, though, I scoped out Allrecipes.com, and I found a few delicious recipes. One that I tried was a chicken stir fry. I cut up enough vegetables for 4 people hehe, but I only added a portion of chicken for 1- it ended up tasting pretty salty, so I think that I will half the bouillon cube next time.

Chicken Stir-fry

One day at the supermarket I saw a really good deal of 12 eggs for 1 euro, so I decided to go for it, although I would hardly ever eat eggs at home. I made myself a delicious omelette for lunch the next day using this handy omelette tutorial – it is really good for kitchen n00bs such as myself ^^ I looked through the website’s how-to index afterwards, and it really gave me a craving for pancakes. I bought some flour from the grocery store yesterday, and I attempted to make pancakes, but they came out more like crepes- completely flat. I asked my mom what she thought, and she said that I should add baking powder next time- strangely it wasn’t listed anywhere in the recipe, but I have found another one from Yahoo! Answers to use for next time.

I was really craving pancakes for dinner last night, but I knew that it wouldn’t be very filling, so I was trying to find a compromise… I made another trip to Ikea earlier this week, so I decided that I would also make the swedish meatballs that I had purchased there… bacon tastes amazing drizzled in maple syrup, so why wouldn’t it be the same for meatballs? Hence…

Pancakes and Swedish Meatballs Drizzled in Maple Syrup

The first pancake tasted a little bit plain, so I added cinnamon to the batter of the subsequent pancakes, and I also sprinkled it over the meatballs. It turned out to be quite delicious! It was really easy to make- the most time-consuming task consisted of whisking the batter by hand.

The maple syrup was 5 euros ($8 CAD), but it was definitely worth it, as you cannot have pancakes without maple syrup- that would just be a disaster. A lot of canadian foods are really difficult to find here, or they are outrageously expensive. One thing that I miss a lot is peanut butter. A teeny tiny jar is 5 euros, and it isn’t even Kraft! Another thing that I really miss is Kraft Dinner. I have tried everything that I can think of to find it here, but I fear that it is impossible… I even asked a question on Yahoo! Answers. There is a website called Canadian Favourites that ships Canadian food, but the prices are ridic, so I’m hoping my mom will send me some hehe.

Everyone in Canada- please eat a beaver tail for me ! Mmmm I miss them so much