Technotrekker Travel Technologies - FULL LIST
Trip Start Jun 29, 2005
235Trip End Nov 30, 2009
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Mobile computing - the Sony PCG-TR3AP.
Such fine lines, such smooth detailing, so little compromise in the room and weight departments. At not much bigger than your average paperback, this 10.6 inch screen mini-laptop is a perfect companion for ultra-portable travel computing, wieghing in at less than 2kg (including the long lasting battery). The screen is brilliant for word processing or watching that latest DVD release and 30Gb of hard drive stores all the pictures from this odyssey with relative ease. Operating and graphics memory is suitable for intermediate graphics manipulation and video playback. A built-in CD burner completes the picture.
All in all, a very tidy machine and an integral player in my travel technology suite. Now I just hope that a reader doesn't track me down and mug me for it... You wouldn't do that, would you?
Additional note: the machine is still going strong, even in the cold of Siberia, but since my visit to Hong Kong I'm quite concerned about the likelihood of finding replacement batteries, manufacturer or generic. Since it is less than a year old, SONY, I WILL BE VERY UNHAPPY IF YOUR BATTERY CRAPS ITSELF AND I CAN'T FIND A REPLACEMENT. Talk about built-in obsolescence. Beware if you're thinking of a purchase of newer models in the series.
Two other characters have also been essential in this quest, and should now be recognised for their bravery under fire, their chic and alluring nature and their small but important contributions to the humanity of this particular dimension. I give you the Pentax Optio S4 and the Fuji FinePix F10, two great cameras that did the hard work these past five months to bring you the 600+ images so far in this journal, some of which a number of you have complimented so generously.
The 4 megapixel Optio S4 brought you everything up to Singapore, which was a substantial body of images. Now in reserve (for dangerous and wet missions), this is a hardy and dependable camera that's starting to show wear but will hopefully see service in a few exotic locations yet. It was almost a casualty of the tubing here in Vang Viene, but after drying out for a little while he's back in action as if there was never a pool of water at the bottom of that dry bag.
The 6.3 megapixel Fuji is the new kid on the block and is performing admirably so far. Much better for fast shooting, video and night shots, but I still have to work on improving the contrast and resolution for sunny day shooting, as the blue in the sky or the greens of the landscapes sometimes elude me unless I destroy the shot composition. Practice makes perfect and if I don't freeze to death in the wastes of Siberia, you should see some great pics and videos of pure white snow (especially at night).
In the end, a camera is a camera, but the technologies continually get better and these guys have been great travel companions, particularly impressive in the sturdiness department.
Additional note: these have held up ok in the extreme cold of Siberia, particularly the batteries that I thought might have real issues being used in -20C conditions. However two other problems have revealed themselves with the Fuji FInePix. Firstly, a piece of dust has found its way into the lens mechanism and now leaves a blotchy watermark on any landscape photo I take. Booo. Secondly, the mode lever has malfunctioned so I can only take Auto focus pictures with it - no video or special setting photos (e.g. 3 second exposures) are now possible). Since it's less than four months old this is a little disappointing.
Some of you may be thinking at this stage, when carrying around a few grand worth of technology, how the hell does he keep all this gadgetry secure when hanging out in hostels and guesthouses, exposed to a group more untrustworthy than poor locals - other backpackers.
Introducing my bodyguards, the Pacsafe Daypack and the humble Kensington Lock.
The Packsafe Daypack is a slash-proof mesh-lined 25L backpack designed to ward off unorganised villains and petty pilferers. The top of the mesh inner lining pulls tightly closed and can be wrapped around solid objects and then padlocked locked closed, keeping everything inside (cameras, wallet, passport, computer etc) relatively safe. It won't withstand attack from a serious felon with boltcutters, but they are few and far between around here so the security is reassuring when you have to leave the secured bag in your room or sleep on a public transport.
The Kensington Lock is standard issue security gear that adds another layer of security for the computer only. Attach this to a separate sturdy object and lock the computer inside the bag and you have a seriously immovable laptop.
These items add a bit of weight to the total I have to carry but the added piece of mind is well worth the extra sweat.
Additional note: it is sometimes difficult to find study things to attach these to. Use bed frames, window bars, heavy furniture, wall mounted bar heaters, solid sink drain pipes or toilet piping (watch out for moisture in the bathroom).
I'd like to introduce another integral team player and possibly the most handy tool in the universe since the humble Towel (as defined by Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy). You wouldn't be reading this without the Sandisk Cruzer mini 1.0Gb USB key.
This little guy gets the finished journal entries from my laptop to the internet via most computers found at the local internet cafe (Windows XP machines are best). With built in drivers and 1Gb of storage, its like a tiny but huge floppy disk of old and can easily carry backups of important information and hold documents sent to your email, often required for later printing. Just plug it into any USB port and upload or download to your heart's content. Don't leave home without one!
Additional note: China has been the only place i've had difficulty using this. Finding internet cafes is difficult and then they don't allow USB to be used for some reason.
Finally, one has to be organised when on the road and rapidly moving in, across and out of countries like I am. You have to do your research and be on the ball as new obstacles and opportunities crop up.
For this I use an online travel forum site that is hard to beat - Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree forums located at http://thorntree.lonelyplanet.com, a community of around 300,000 travellers across the globe that discuss the intricacies of travelling in every imaginable place world-wide, as well as a variety of travel related topics that make travelling life easier, smoother, safer and more fun. Once you master the search facilities, pretty much every conceivable question you may have will have been asked and answered here. If not, just ask and knowledgable people will probably be able to provide the answer.
You still have to do the hard but rewarding work of travelling. However this site is a gold-mine of information that every traveller should make use of.