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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 8 Sep 2008
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Lap top ignorance!

Hiya all, I have always travelled pretty low tech, which i think actually sums me up pretty well as a person too! So, i suspect this is a bit of a dumb question... i think... but can someone explain to me in simple terms how you get your lap top to work and connected to the interweb superhighway reasonably economically when abroad, in say Africa for instance?

I went into Vodaphone shop today to chat to them about using a lap top on their mobile broadband while away, which you can, although they were a little vague about where it would work..? but also that it would cost me a monthly fee of about £20, which seemed reasonable but then another £4.99 per megabite of use.

What do you get for 1MG... how many emails can you send? how long online?

Can someone help and enlighten a confused brummie??

Many thanks.
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Old 8 Sep 2008
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Hi, what do you want to do on the internet?
Send off your photo's? A few emails or update a blog?
Reckon an internet cafe would be a good start.
Charged per 1/2hr. Here in the UK it's about £1 per hr.
You may come across wifi or wireless hotspots which might even allow free access. Otherwise you'll be paying on a time basis.
Your laptop would need a wireless adapter, either built in or via an adapter (£15+).

To save time you may want to prepare emails and photos' before hand on the laptop. Type your emails into a text file. Edit the photos', crop them and shrink them making them transfer faster. If you save these on a USB stick or the camera's memory card you might be able to put this in the internet cafe's pc. You can then copy and paste your prepared emails.

Can go into more detail if required but don't want to give you information overload.
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Old 8 Sep 2008
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Thanks for your reply, it is mainly just access to emails... i am leaving my own business in the hands of my business partner for three months or so but did want to keep in some regular contact while in west Africa, without actually having to speak to anyone!

Yeah, i have plenty of experience of finding internet cafes where you would not expect to find them all over the world and can revert to this... but i keep seeing threads advising of the best lap tops to take when travelling, all bike and travel proof allegedly.

Are they just used to prepare a document/email/photo/blog which is then saved onto a memory stick till you hit the next town?

Or am i missing the point?
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Old 9 Sep 2008
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Have you looked at using a Blackberry or other phone for doing e-mails. Mobiles are everywhere in Africa but maybe not 3G. Otherwise the Eee-PC seems like the laptop to take.

Here's a road report of an 8GB Eee-PC.
http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hub...t+for+the+road
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Old 14 Sep 2008
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Unhappy

I would prefer a lap top, trying to do emails on a small blackberry would drive me crazy! Thanks for the link... but it just talks about what it is able to do and the best way to charge it... not how you connect it to the intrnet? which is what i am interested in finding out... but to no one has enlightened me.
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Old 15 Sep 2008
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I have no specific knowledge of Africa, mostly asia, but here are the general principles.

You can connect to internet via cable, just as the stationary computer you are using now.

You can also connect via wireless connection also called WiFi or W-lan. You then need a laptop with this function build in or a card (PCMCIA or short:PC card) to install in a slot in the laptop.

You will normally find possibility to use these connections in the more expensive hotels but also in a few internet cafés.

But your best bet to get online will be, as described, to prepare your correspondance on the laptop, transfer it to a USB memory stick and insert this in a computer in an internet café and copy/paste it to your mails, as inet cafés are getting abundant in most countries and rather cheap when out of Europe.
Funny thing is, that they are not abundant in Europe, I guess because people don't need them, as everybody has a computer in their homes.

A typical mail without HTML or attachments will be 2-3 kb thats 3-500 mails pr kb, but if your webmail provider has a lot of ads on his page it can be a lot more.

You can not rely on roaming services( your inet provider has to have agreements with the providers in each state you pass) to work always.

To be sure, to have contact, where ever you please, you'll have to hire a satelite phone with data capabilities

There is also a (old) way of connecting: via modem. I f.x. Egypt, there is a telephone number for free inet access, its slow but works ok when only transferring mails. China also has free inet access via telephone modem.

I have also used my GSM mobile as a modem. If you can't get a connection in the country you are in, you can call another country, that has roaming with your provider, you could even call the provider directly in your home country(a bit expensive, but if its urgent) if they still have a telephone conecction to the internet.
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Old 15 Sep 2008
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Thanks.

That sounds sensible and even understandable to me Poul, thanks for the extensive reply. I think from what everyone has said that if i do take a lap top, it will just be for preparing stuff and then down loading to a memeory stick prior to doing what i have always done... hunt out an internet cafe... i suppose that is some progress for me!

I have always and will continue to stay clear of Sat phones and stick with occaisionally trying to get hold of a pay as you go sim card to make the odd call... i hate being contactable all the time!

Many thanks.
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Old 26 Sep 2008
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In many places they wont let you connect your own laptop and it is in many ways just another thing to worry about.

I would go for the USB pen and upload all your vital stuff to an email addess or something so you can access it everywhere.

Laptops are ok, but -imho- not really worth it.

PS: I carried an asus eee for 6 months through south america and can vouch for the quality of the machine. But I would'nt bring it again...
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