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Communications Connecting - internet cafes, laptops, Palm devices, cell phones - how to connect, use, which one, and Bike to Bike and passenger intercoms.
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Old 18 Apr 2002
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Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: athens, georgia, usa
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Accoustic Couplers

It looks to me like an accoustic coupler is a good way around the problem of dealing with different configurations of phone jacks in different countries when trying to plug in your modem. An accoustic coupler straps onto a telephone handset and transmits data through the mouthpiece and receives data through the earpiece. No adaptor problems (and no high voltage worries about frying your modem either).

The theory sounds good to me, but has anyone had any experience using an accoustic coupler, and does anyone know where I can get one?
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Old 18 Apr 2002
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I haven't used an acoustic couple for years, too much aggro. And bulkier than a handful of adapters. And costs more. And hard to get.

You only need a few connectors, and many places have RJ-11 jacks now anyway.

We have: Norway, France, UK, Germany and maybe one other, and that covered most of Europe, South America and Africa for us.

Granted there are many more you could buy, but be careful exactly which ones you really need. We carry a small tool from IBM that plugs into the phone socket to check that it's safe for your modem - about the size of a pen. A couple of wires with alligator clips, a couple of paperclips and a small screwdriver allows hotwiring the plugs anywhere you don't have the right plug, or there is no plug. Open up the phone and plug in!

Check Magellan’s for more - there's a link on our links page at http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/links/ under Communications or Internet or something like that...

Grant Johnson

One world, Two wheels.
Grant Johnson

Seek, and ye shall find.


Inspiring, Informing and Connecting travellers since 1997!
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Old 5 Aug 2002
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The "small tool from IBM" that Grant refers to is called an "IBM modem saver", the IBM part number for it is 73G5395. It is the same size and shape as a ballpoint pen, therefore very easy to carry.

Targus makes a set of phone adapters for just about every country in the world. On my most recent trip through Western and Central Europe, I stayed in moderately priced hotels, guest houses, etc. every night (60 nights) and found that about 50% of the hotels had the standard RJ-11 phone jacks (no adapter needed), 20% had the old-fashioned phone jack that would have required an adapter, and 30% either had the phone hardwired into the wall, or the hotel phone system would not support a computer connection because it was PBX, had a switchboard, etc (adapter would not have helped).

I think you could get away without either the adapters or the modem tester if you were willing to just ask the hotel (ideally late in the evening) if you could use their fax line to check your email. I have never found a hotel that does not have a fax somewhere, and the fax will have a RJ11 plug.

The real issue is having a dial up ISP that has local access numbers in all the countries you plan to visit. I use ATT Global, they are pretty good, for most countries in the world they have either a toll free number you dial, or they will have a local number close to the city you are in. They cover most of the rat-holes of the world as well, places where you are lucky to find a phone, they will have an access number.

[This message has been edited by PanEuropean (edited 05 August 2002).]
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