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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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  #1  
Old 12 Aug 2007
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Do I really need a laptop ??

Im trying to weigh up the pro's and cons of a laptop on my trip to South America.

Pros:

Store music, photos, games etc,
Edit website offline before uploading,
Easy to edit waypoints and tracks with GPS software,
Something to play with when bored (airports, rainy days etc)
Store back ups of documents to print out etc


Cons:

£400 could be spent on petrol and food,
Takes a lot of space up,
Target for thieves,
Not the most reliable and hardwearing things on a bike,

What are your views ?
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Last edited by *Touring Ted*; 12 Aug 2007 at 20:44.
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  #2  
Old 12 Aug 2007
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I've thought about this too and decided against. I don't have a Blog or website
but would like to write accounts and access email. But I can do all this at I-Cafes en route. I don't need to get to a computer everyday either. Once a week or so is fine for me.

It's funny...I just found this incredible high tech gadget...cheap too! its tiny, takes up no space and can be stored in breast pocket....it's called a pencil and paper. (Old School)

I'm not a video gamer....mostly read books and practice my Spanish. I won't carry a GPS either because there aren't many GPS maps for down there....but I guess that is changing? I plan to do Screen shots of Google earth and print those out on very rare occassions.

I know many carry laptops....mostly the "pros" who have big plans for a book or movie. Others are still at work...and actually get paid while on the road and do their whole job via computer.

I know of several riders carrying computers on RTW rides, at one time or another seems they all rattle them to pieces. Yes, I'll spend more money at I-Cafe's, but to me a computer is just a major headache.


Patrick

Last edited by mollydog; 13 Aug 2007 at 00:49.
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  #3  
Old 12 Aug 2007
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The hubby (being a nerd - soz hun) would not only say take the laptop, he'd spend the next 2 years trying to figure out which one was the best one to buy and then worry away whether he'd got the right one!!

I wouldn't call myself a nerd, but we spent the best part of 4 hours talking to 7 people in 2 languages about a static IP address this morning and only one of those people had a glimmer of knowledge of what one was. At the end of it all, I was very upset and realised it was because I hadn't had my fix of 'news/emails/HUBB'.

It really depends on what you're going to use one for. I like to take the hubby out on my 'magical mystery tours'. I plan routes during the week and we ride them at the weekends. So last week, I spent most of a day planning a 150km route on road and down some remote dusty tracks. I got the longitude and latitude coordinates using satellite imagery (computer), then converted them to decimal degrees (computer). The hubby downloaded them onto his TomTom (computer). As a backup, I printed out the corresponding maps (computer). Off we go, the hubby with his TomTom mounted on his bike and me with 6 sheets of maps attatched to mine with a bulldog clip. Which do you think we ended up using? Well, both as it turns out. It soon became clear when we were off the roads that the coordinates weren't accurate enough (even though I zoomed in to 10m on the satellite imagery) and we ended up using the maps to get onto the right tracks.

Last year on our Euro trip, the hubby had his laptop (purely trasporting it from A to B) and I had a pencil and notepad. I wrote about our trip every night. The computer never came out of the pannier - it was too much of a hassle to set it up.

I'd say take an mp3, use internet cafes (can you upload pics there?), email all your docs to yourself so you can access them, take maps, talk to people when you're bored and never worry about it being nicked or breaking.
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  #4  
Old 12 Aug 2007
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I work as a writer while I travel. It's a necessary piece of equipment for me. If I wasn't a writer, I wouldn't have one. Although the one benefit to having one is being able to write in the comfort and privacy of my own space. Years ago, when I wasn't a writer while travelling, I got along just fine without one. Cafe's are everywhere. However, in small towns, it's quite common to NOT have the ability to use your own laptop. You have to use their PC's. So there goes one plus of carrying a laptop.

I can't imagine being bored enough to warrant the bother.

I had an interesting conversation the other night with a Dutch fellow who's been living in Bogota for four years, and a Kiwi on a bike en route back to England. We all acknowledged a very humbling fact. When you travel, great friends you've left behind will not write to you nearly as much as you'd like, if at all. It's the same with blogs. The people who will be your support, will be your fellow travelers and locals. This is a conversation I've had with expats in other countries too. So to carry a laptop to keep in contact may not be a great idea.

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  #5  
Old 13 Aug 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dakota View Post
I'd say take an mp3, use internet cafes (can you upload pics there?), email all your docs to yourself so you can access them, take maps, talk to people when you're bored and never worry about it being nicked or breaking.
I don't have the patience to upload hi-rez pics unless the I-Cafe has a reliable
high speed connection. If not, I can usually burn a CD for storage. Also, I carry several spare CF cards. But, yes, you can upload pics but I have trouble with PC's.....I'm a mac guy....since 1983.

When doing articles I have a tiny digital recorder with helmet mounted mic for making notes in route and laying down random patches of brilliance in zeros and ones for future transcription.

I have an I-Pod for music, but I'll have to leave my world class Sony MDR 7506 (V-6) headphones (reference headphone in Hollywood sound community) Too big. I've recorded sound and music all over the world so I'd love to do more of this but it's just not practical to carry the good stuff on the bike. I don't do mediocre so camera mics and cheap recorders/mics are out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lorraine View Post
We all acknowledged a very humbling fact. When you travel, great friends you've left behind will not write to you nearly as much as you'd like, if at all. It's the same with blogs. The people who will be your support, will be your fellow travelers and locals. This is a conversation I've had with expats in other countries too. So to carry a laptop to keep in contact may not be a great idea.
Lorraine
Blogs don't work that well IMO for staying in touch cause folks forget to go there. What works is a simple email list serve. Put all your friends on it and send out regular updates and reports. Even grandmothers have email and if they know it's you, hopefully they won't delete it as spam. On the list you can add links to pics/blogs/Utube/Pod Casts/voice files or whatever. Very simple and reliable and prods folks to respond....

Or you could simply send out emails when you update your blog with a link. You have to make it a no brainer or folks will drift away. With a list friends can quickly and easily respond. Computer savvy ones can send pics and links of their own.

Just a thought.

Patrick
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  #6  
Old 13 Aug 2007
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Good subject..
I am planning B.A. to Chicago in December and have completed a 2 week trial run up to the north woods of Canada for which I brought my laptop.
I found it burdensome taking up one complete pannier on my bike (including carry case which you'll need to keep it secure on the bike on rough roads).I think the i pod combo will suffice for pics and with the frequency of i cafe's along the way e mail should not be a problem thus releaving me of the worry of the laptop being stolen etc.
I hope this helps but as others have posted your needs may differ
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  #7  
Old 13 Aug 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tedmagnum View Post
Im trying to weigh up the pro's and cons of a laptop on my trip to South America.
Consider a PDA - smaller, lighter cheaper .. will play MP3s, write documents, do a spread sheet, etc. And yes you can do some GPS stuff with it .. save waypoints and track logs .. err provided it has a serial port and teh GPS has a serial port .. USB is currently in the future. Even place the docs onto a memory card then use the card at an i Cafe to download it ..

Storage of photos .. well memory cards are better than hard disks .. even CDs ..
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  #8  
Old 13 Aug 2007
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Quckie answer...

I've been carrying a laptop on long trips. It will readily suck up all the pics from my camera like a thirsty camel, stows easily on top of my clean and dirty, filthy clothes, rides in relative safety, and allows me easy Net access where ever WiFi is available. The WiFi thing is newer than Tommy Jeans in many Third Worldish type places - it's that latest and so cool...and doesn't need to be worn below your butt crack.

If I'm stalled for a day or more or just chilling somewhere where Net access is available, it's a nice comfortable convenience to have. Oh, how easy it is to become spoiled.

The Net cafes are always there. Some will allow you to use their cable and some will not. I think it's more of a personal mission and convenience thing.

IIRC, Stanley and Livingston did encounter the problem of Apple vs Bill...
How our world changes...and so very fast.
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  #9  
Old 13 Aug 2007
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I couldn't bring a laptop because my bike is 6 volts. I bought an out of date Psion psa because it has a keyboard and saves onto a CF card. I'd write stuff on that and upload from the CF card.

It has a browser to save RSS and it'll download email as well. That way instead of a short message ("Hi, still alive but I'm in an internet cafe that is costing me money"), I can write a long message on the beach.

The Psion 5mx was out of date when I got it. They still show up on eBay, and you can contact another geek who fixes them up (there's a common problem about the screen that he can fix). I bought mine through him, and I'm happy.

www.psionflexi.co.uk
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  #10  
Old 13 Aug 2007
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I carried a laptop on my trip and would do it again in a heartbeat.

Pros...
  • Compose trip reports, and organize pics BEFORE going to the I-cafe.
  • Secure connection to your financials and other personal accounts when you can hook up at I-cafe.
  • You can store and organize your pics when you have free time, instead of putting it off until you get home.
  • You have multiple pieces of software that help you organize your trip better.
  • Store and manipulate maps
Cons...
  • weight
  • choose the wrong one and you've got an albatross...
  • can be a distraction.
I'm not sure what laptops the guys were using that MollyDog referred to BUT my T60 Thinkpad made it from Casablanca to Vlad(crossing the Sahara twice) without issues...
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  #11  
Old 13 Aug 2007
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Laptop? I don't even take a watch.

Steve
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  #12  
Old 13 Aug 2007
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Pda

Currently using a PDA with a rubber, roll up, USB keybord. Works well.

John
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  #13  
Old 13 Aug 2007
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This is a really interesting question and one I've been battling with for the last few months.

I'm off to Morocco (Journey To Morocco) in September and Russia (Journey To Russia) in July next year - both trips will involve me blogging all the way around and updating the relevant websites.

So without getting into the - I'd rather be out there on my own with no ties discussion! here are the options I've looked at,

Palm with Bluetooth keyboard - used this on one of our training runs, and whilst it did work it was a little too cramped and restrictive for my liking - but the battery life was fantastic and it was very portable.

Full on laptop (12'' Apple iBook) - great - fantastic - wonderful to have it along - hooked up to wi-fi where I could and perfect for managing the photos and videos and blog entries. Wouldn't want to take this on a very long trip though as it's still a hard drive and they're not that keen on constant vibration

Ultra Mobile PC - on paper this is the perfect option (Asus Eee PC: £199 Linux laptop - Crave at CNET.co.uk) solid state hard drive, small, portable and has a proper keyboard and USB slots. It runs Linux so can't run MapSource (but XP can be installed on it if you wish)... but with only 8gb space you'd either need extra storage cards or keep your photos to a min

Discussion about that machine here http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hub...ghlight=laptop

Personally I'll be going for the Asus Eee PC when it makes an appearance - mostly because it only costs $199!

m
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  #14  
Old 13 Aug 2007
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"Laptop? I don't even take a watch."

I LOVE it!!!! If more people could think like you....
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  #15  
Old 13 Aug 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lorraine View Post
"Laptop? I don't even take a watch."

I LOVE it!!!! If more people could think like you....
Lorraine
lol.. Hes right though isnt he.

Im not going to bother with a laptop now
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