26 April 2003 - Somewhere in Vietnam
The technology I trust on this trip

Just a short break here from tales of the terrors of travel to tell you about the technology I'm trawling with me on this trip.

Firstly, and foremost, is my trusty Palm Pilot m505. It's actually a second-hand unit I bought from a good friend at a good price, and in it I keep all emails, reminders and dates.

It's actually pretty useful, but the real pain is that I have to charge it practically every other day, more often if I use it to read a book with the backlight on. How I hark for the days when Palms came with batteries and all you had to do was carry a spare whenever you travelled. Now I have to hunt for a free plug point wherever I go. It's a pain, I tell you.

I also bought a keyboard to go with the palm, but it was so impractical when I tried to use it that I decided that I needed something better, hence my AlphaSmart 3000 (which is what I'm using to type this out). This is basically a portable word processor with a full-sized keyboard that runs on three AA batteries. It really is quite cool, and is exactly what I need for this trip to keep notes. The only pain is that to upload the data in it to a computer, I have to connect it with a cable, but since it emulates a keyboard, it's pretty flexible about where you can plug it in. It would be ideal if it had a floppy drive or something similar.

My third piece of technology is my FujiFilm FinePix 2300 digital camera. It's a low-end camera, and second-hand to boot, but it works well enough and it isn't fussy to use. The biggest problem I've had with it is in taking long exposure shots (my hand shakes something terrible), but I now know I should lean it on something solid when taking shots like that. I have a 64MB card which is enough for 170+ shots at 1280x960 resolution and it runs on 4 AA batteries. It has a life of about a week, depending on how intense I am on picture-taking. Angkor exhausted my batteries in four days, I think.

The last main piece of equipment I have is my Sony Ericsson T68, a shining example of how being feature-filled never compensates for lack of user-friendliness. What I like about it is that it's small and has a standby battery life of about five days. What I don't like about it is... everything else. From being the most audacious gaudy yellow-gold colour, to having a navigational joystick that is no joy to use if you have thumbs larger than a few millimeters, to having navigational menus that at times hinder rather than help. I only use it as a glorified SMS sender/receiver, and next time will seriously consider carry one of those small keyboards instead. I also have to find a plug point to recharge this from time to time, although it's less of a pain than the palm.

There are also peripherals that I carry along to support all this other technology. One is a USB card reader which I can use to read both my digital camera smartmedia card and my Palm MultiMedia Card (MMC), as long as the PC I'm using has a USB port. I normally have to upload drivers too, but they can work without you having to reboot.

I also need to bring a battery recharger, mainly for the batteries for the digital camera. Honestly, I would be far happier if that's all I needed to charge, but instead my charger has to find space on the plug point next to the Palm charger and the phone charger. They can all fit, but plugs in this part of the world have only two short prongs and are mounted sideways, so my chargers tend to tip my adaptor over ever-so-slightly and pull everything off the wall.


posted on Friday, May 02, 2003 - permalink
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