Never traveled with a notebook but I used to repair them and would expect following problems:
- A harddisk is a very sensitve mechanical part not designed to survive constant vibrations
- The whole notebook is a assembly of different parts sometimes only puted together w/o screws, again not designed for constant vibrations
- Electrical equipment is always very vibration sensitive
- They again are not designed for rough conditions (temperature, humidity, dirt, etc)
You will not be able to secure sensitive parts in a notebook as it is sometimes done with eg GPS's (done by fixing vibration sensitive parts with silicone), that would change thermal conditions which are shortly calculated and the notbeook would overheat when running. Apart from that you loose factory warranty by opening the case.
Maybe you should think about a organizer or a sub-notebook. They are a lot smaller and lightweight therefore less vibration sensitive (but they still are).
Nevertheless I'm thinking of a solution to take one with me on the next trip for the same reasons as you and to be able to do some work if needed on the road. Some of my ideas:
- Build a special case, waterproof and devibrated, fixed in the panniers or any other "droping the bike" save place
- Always remove the harddisk when riding and keep it at a vibration absorbing place, eg in a towel
- Take a spare HD with you
- Always remove all removable parts (especialy the battery) to reduce overall weight of the unit when riding
- Take a CDRW or DVD writer (and use it regularly!)
- Take a system-Ghost with you (thats a copy of the full system on a CD/DVD) to restore the system in case of a harddisk failure
- Build a custom battery charger to be able to charge it when riding, saves bikes battery. Ensure bikes electrical system stands the extra power consumtion (10-30W)
- Choose a make with a world wide support network. Eg HP has support partners in nearly any country. But be prepared to wait long time to fix your problem.
Another idea is to buy a satelite phone. The Iridium phones are about the same size as GSM phones are and you are able to connect to the net. You pay aprox US$ 1.30/Min for voice calls and US$ 1.50 for data calls. By 2003 there will be a new system (can't remeber its name), the plan was to build phones about the same price/size as GSM phones and the calls less than 1 US$ per minute. But I don't know the state of it, maybe a net research would help.
Mel D: Memory cards shouldn't be a problem as long you keep them dry and clean. There are no mechanical parts in them, only a few SMD chips with nearly no weight so they are not (very) vibration sensitve. For the CD's in the fridge: I would say it will be better to store them in a dry case, always hidden from the sun. Think the humidity in the fridge is more of a problem than the temperature as long not exceeding 35 to 45 degrees. Keep'em away from the exhaust pipe ;-)
Hope that helps. Travel light!