Afghanistan Diary
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
  More on being a geek

I have been sick for the last couple of days and my productivity at work has peeked at 10% of what it usually is. It was nothing too bad, but serious enough for me to use one of my joker cards: a course of large spectrum antibiotic that nukes any bad bacteria in your system in three days.

Meanwhile, being naturally a little obsessive with things, I have pursued my quest for the ultimate navigation system in Kabul (the holy grail as far as I am concerned). The problem is that there are no good ready made gps maps for this city. There is on the other hand a very good map of Kabul (in Adobe Acrobat format). The challenge is to use it with a gps navigation device.

Below is a log of my activities (skip if you are not a geek). Email any suggestion you might have.

Now that I found out how to create a custom map for my gps, I can’t help but think What about creating a routable map of Kabul (i.e. maps giving turn by turn directions). Unfortunately, I do not believe this is possible with Magellan GPSes. It is possible on some Garmin units but I think it requires a software that is extremely expensive.

On the way to the software shop I had my first flat tire (a very common occurrence in Kabul). People are very generous here, when it comes to providing assistance and in no time a crowd had gathered first to coach, then to assist the inept foreigner. As a thank you, I ended up buying two overpriced socks from the street seller who assisted me the most.

Infrastructure is developing in Afghanistan, roads are getting better and in Kabul, there has been a recent proliferation of traffic signs (still there really aren’t many) that just did not exist a couple of months ago.

At work, I presented my idea to use a PDA to simplify the data entry process in the field and it was well received. Depending on the cost, there is a chance that I might get the green light. I have been templted to get a Pocket PC myself, as I really would like to learn how to program for these devices but I don't know if I can really afford it right now.

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This is my diary. My name is Lev and I work in Kabul for a non-governmental organization (

Location: Kabul, Afghanistan
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