Archive for the 'Electronics' Category
Thursday, October 16, 2008
I like my new Indonesian mobile phone. It’s a sleek little model made by Nokia whose sole feature is a flashlight, in case I get lost at night. (The next most expensive phone advertised an FM radio.) While the phone is devoid of standard extras like a digital camera, it is unlocked, unlike those sold in the United States. So in most countries we visit, we’ll be able to purchase a prepaid SIM card, a small chip placed inside the phone, providing us temporary local service and a number.
We hadn’t planned on buying a mobile for this trip, as it seemed like an unnecessary cost. But we’ve encountered enough frustrating situations in which we’ve sighed, “If we only had a cell phone!” that it finally seemed worth it. What finally pushed us over the edge was spending $5 on a four minute phone call.
We have met a few travelers using their mobile phones outside their countries of residence, but we figured they were paying an arm and a leg in international roaming charges. It wasn’t until our friend Paul explained this SIM card scheme to us. Whether it’s accommodation, transportation, or other areas of travel, I’m continually amazed by the creativity of our fellow travelers to better their lives. If you’d like to contact us while we’re in Australia, our number is 0432269839.No comments
I clearly remember my family’s first computer. We purchased it in 1993, and it was a behemoth. It took a full day to set-up the machine and we were afraid to touch anything, lest the computer self-destruct. For some reason I can’t recall we backed up the entire Windows system on floppy disks. When I opened the box to our new Asus EEE PC, I couldn’t help but remember that first computer. “How things have changed,” I thought. The computer we will use for our trip weighs just a little over two pounds and can be held in the palm of one’s hand, like Vanna White demonstrating some super fabulous product.
We’ve spent a few days trying it out and, despite its size, are pretty impressed with its capabilities. We held out for the newer model that was released at the beginning of June, which provides a larger screen and longer battery life than its predecessor, and I’m glad we did. We’re having some troubles getting the iPod and computer to “talk” to one another, but hope to have it ironed out soon. The keys are pretty small, too, but we’re praising the gene pool that we both were blessed with small hands: we may not have a future in piano playing, but we’re turning out to be the perfect EEE users.
Sort of like how kids enjoy the box a gift comes in more than the gift itself, my very favorite feature of the EEE is its small, plush carrying case, which looks like a cute clutch. If it wasn’t such an aberrant idea for keeping ones goods secure while traveling, I’d carry it in the crook of my arm everywhere I went. Just because I could.2 comments
Things are finally starting to fall into place this week. You may have noticed that the “Rent Our House!” tab has disappeared from our page. Utilizing our “kindness of strangers” approach, we were able to secure a renter for the duration of our trip! Our friends, John and Alicia, were able to refer a great tenant our way. Our hope has always been to find a friend-of-a-friend to rent to, someone we can trust with our greatest asset. So, thanks guys: you’ve taken a real load off of our shoulders.
I’ve always said that once our tickets were purchashed and our house was rented, the rest was just details. With those big items checked off our mounting to-do list, I am able to shift my focus to some of the smaller (and more interesting) things that need to be accomplished before July 13. This week I began a photograph class. People keep telling me to “take lots of great pictures” on our trip, which is a tall order. I bought a nifty camera nearly a year ago, and thus far I’ve only mastered the automatic settings. Realizing I need to learn how to operate the manual settings to do anything cool and artsy, I signed up for a photography class. Once we hit the road we plan on creating photo galleries for each country we visit, so hopefully you’ll be able to witness the fruits of my labor. I’m not the ideal photographer; it’s a technical craft for which I find I have very little patience (I still can’t, for the life of me, understand the concept of an f-stop and how it relates to aperture- and shutter-priority). But a girl can dream! We’re still trying to figure out the best way to store and back-up our photos from the road. Our computer probably won’t store much, so we’ve considered buying an iPod to store photos. We’ve also thought about buying a number of memory cards and storing photos that way; or, some combination of those two methods. If any one has any brilliant ideas to this end, we’re all ears.
We finished our final round of vaccinations this week, and are now guarded against nearly every disease that one can be vaccinated for. We’ve spent so much time at the New Mexico Travel Health Clinic over the past two months that the nurse actually gave us a hug on the way out and asked us to send her a postcard. I’m honestly not sure what I’ll do with my Friday mornings anymore.
In other news, my backpack that’s been on order from REI arrived this week! I was excited to pick it up at the store and have it fitted on Thursday. I still feel a little panicked when I see how small it is, but that’s just the way it’s gonna have to be. I had an interesting conversation with the employee who fitted the bag for me, who had obviously done a great deal of extended international travel. It’s fun to find a fellow soul who you can debate the relative pros and cons of bringing more than two pairs of shoes with. We also discussed, at length, how to pack lightly without looking like a bum or about to embark on a safari. One issue in which he had a definite opinion was the Eagle Creek packing folders and cubes. The one commonality I’ve seen in all RTW packing lists is the addition of these flexible packing products. They are supposed to make your backpack infinitely more organized and compact. Stay tuned as The Mystery of How to Get Eight Months Worth of Stuff in One Bag continues…3 comments
We recently made our first major equipment purchase: our backpacks! While some RTW gurus would tell you we’re doing this a little early in the process, we wanted to take advantage of REI’s sale for members, which offered a 20% discount per bag through last Sunday. Two weeks ago we made our first trip to REI to mull over our various options. We had originally planned on buying a wheeled backpack, which offers both advantages and disadvantages. The main advantage is that it makes navigating cities and airports very swift; if you’re staying put for awhile, it’s ideal. But once you leave the city streets, the design and weight makes strapping on the pack cumbersome. Loading 30 pounds in the wheeled model and walking around the store for 10 minutes persuaded me to go wheel-less. It also convinced me that I need to leave my hairdryer at home.
After an hour my head was swimming: I like three choices of any given item, so the panoply of backpacks at REI is my worst nightmare. We returned the following Friday to finalize our selection and make our purchase. In the interim, I hopped on REI’s website to research travel packs, which are designed for long-haul travel, and can be easily checked on airplanes (we long ago gave up the hope of getting a bag small enough to carry-on, and the travel packs don’t have tons of extra straps that can get snagged in baggage carousels). Maikael selected REI’s Grand Tour model, whereas I went for Osprey’s Waypoint 60, designed especially for women. I had my heart set on the Osprey Porter 65, because it was the only travel pack without a detachable daypack. Just like I’m not an athletic tennis shoe or T-shirt person, so, too, am I not a backpack person. I never knew how strongly I felt about this preference until I began looking at backpacks, one of many such realizations I’ve had about myself during this planning process. But the kindly REI employee convinced me that it’s more important to have the proper fitting bag — I guess I’ll leave the daypack at home. I digress: the point is we have small backpacks that will leave us very little room for packing (or overpacking).
That taken care of, we began investigating laptop computers. Here, again, micro is the way to go. We need something that is compact, lightweight, and can take a beating, all things that typically equal big bucks. Our friend, Tim, mentioned the Eee PC by Asus as a potential option a number of months ago. I was skeptical; in fact, I believe my exact words were, “What the hell is that?” But a number of travel websites have mentioned this model as ideal for extended travel. I am easily swept up by emotion, and after 10 minutes of investigating this little number, I was ready to run out and buy one. Maikael has encouraged me to think twice about what it will really be like to read a 7″ screen (a new model is scheduled for April release with a 8.9″ screen, which may be more practical). But it weighs in at just under two pounds, and after my experience at REI, I’m willing to give up my eyesight for a lighter haul. Sure, its battery life is pretty paltry, and its computing functions are rather basic, but we don’t need it to do much. And, I’ll admit, it’s pretty darned cute; although, Maikael has already put the kibosh on a pink model. At $400, I don’t think this computer can be beat for our purposes.4 comments