Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Tech Tools for Traveling

I have been researching ways to increase the worldwide infection rate of my smile inducing & thought provoking writing. I have learned with some effort that a moderately successful method is to create link bait.

That is, provide a list of useful links and tools that people will find whilst searching the web and hopelessly smitten with my mind and measure they will return. Hopefully with a friend.

My modest preamble is merely a transparent way of announcing my intentions. In an election year it is important to use the word transparent at least once a day.

Probably a good place to start is talking about my old systems and ways of doing things.

HARDWARE

At home or at work I have had the luxury of
  • A lot of Storage
  • A lot of Memory
  • A lot of screen real estate
  • Reliable Fast Internet


I am a fan of technology. I like my toys. The thought of traveling with out an outlet for my fingers is mildly terrifying.

I knew from lugging my laptop and assorted goodies around New Zealand that small was going to be the order of the day. The MacBook Air beckoned but the single usb port and lack of standard connectors was a turn off.

As alluded to earlier I settled with an EEE-PC but I have been challenged with the following
  • Limited Storage (4gb ssd 4gb HDSD)
  • Limited Memory (512mb ram)
  • Small 7inch Screen

First thing I did was upgrade the ram inside the EEE-PC with a 1gig stick. I may pick up a 2gig chip when I my wife is using it regularly. Form strategic alliances before purchasing tech additions.

I picked up an 8gib Sandisk SDHD card. $53 thank you very much.

I picked up Targus Ultra Portable USB optical mouse with retractable cable. The retractable cable is the clincher. When using a laptop in funny positions having a mouse cable that is only as long as it needs to be is perfect.

I already use a 4gig memory stick. I have ordered a 16gig memory stick which should be able to carry a bit of media on it.

I have my eyes on one of these as elegant way of adding bluetooth to my eee-pc but I think I can manage with out it for now

That is about it for hardware. A backpackers mantra is to not have anything that you won't mind getting stolen. Somewhat cynical but also somewhat wise.

Software

Having a 4gigabyte system drive poses some interesting challenges. Thankfully there are some fantastic resources for a EEE-PC user. I would recommend all of these if you looking to trim some of the fat off your PC.

Guide on how to get Windows XP down to a 573mb install

  • Uses an iso creation tool called nLite
Xpy

Patch windows holes and nuances. There is a vista version available as well.

Nod32


Sound antivirus software which has served me well. Runs fine on EEE-PC as well!

Xpize

Great way to give XP a new look if you are pining for Vista. It also has some great readability features which are a godsend with a 7inch screen

Turn off your swap file

If you are packing a gig of ram and have followed some of my advice you probably don't need a swap file anymore. Get rid of it.

If it can run off a flash drive let it


portable apps is a great resource.

I am currently running

portablefirefox

portable version of the ever popular firefox. More firefox goodies later!

free download manager

Very smart file download manager intergrates with flashgot. Will get to that later! Also has a file upload component

foxit a pox upon adobe and the crappy way they handle pdf. Get foxit and free your pc!

skype

Cheap long distance phone calls

pidgin

Why limit yourself to one messaging program when you can
  • AIM
  • Bonjour
  • Gadu-Gadu
  • Google Talk
  • Groupwise
  • ICQ
  • IRC
  • MSN
  • MySpaceIM
  • QQ
  • SILC
  • SIMPLE
  • Sametime
  • XMPP
  • Yahoo!
  • Zephyr
All from inside one small program.

If you can, do it on the web with the web

The web is everywhere. It follows you around. If you save things on the web then they are relatively safe. With a bit of thought you can move most of your goodies onto the web and do a lot of you work from inside an internet browser.

First things first. Sign up for a webmail account from google. Unless you are incredibly paranoid you probably already have a free account from a big provider. They all offer great things for free. Some of the best features of Google include.


Communicate, show & share
BloggerBlogger
Share your life online with a blog -- it's fast, easy, and free
CalendarCalendar
Organize your schedule and share events with friends
DocsDocs
Create and share your projects online and access them from anywhere
GmailGmail
Fast, searchable email with less spam
GroupsGroups
Create mailing lists and discussion groups
OrkutOrkut
Meet new people and stay in touch with friends
PicasaPicasa
Find, edit and share your photos
PicasaReader
Get all your blogs and news feeds fast
SketchUpSketchUp
Build 3D models quickly and easily
TalkTalk
IM and call your friends through your computer
TranslateTranslate
View web pages in other languages
YouTubeYouTube
Watch, upload and share videos

One more to add to that list. I have been using

iGoogleiGoogle
Add news, games and more to the Google homepage

For a while as a portal. It is a pretty easy way to setup a webdesktop from which you can start your internet session from.

One of the best benefits of using the web in such a way is that you can move documents, media and even large files online. This has given me more confidence in leaving behind all of my storage.

Google Docs can store important docs, spreadsheets and even presentations.

Picasa can store up to a gigabyte of photos

Firefox add on gspace is very clever way of using your gmail account like hard drive. Mine is six gigabytes and counting.

Flashgot is a great firefox add on for downloading things from the web. It also integrates with free download manager that you installed before.

Yet to be tested on the EEE but.....

If you are like me and subscribe to a few RSS feeds. Do a bit of social networking and often run a few instances of your browser and screeds of tabs.

Flock browser is for you! A bit hard to explain but think of the mother ship browser which pulls everything together in one very slick package.

Go visit the website it has won screeds of awards and comes with my double thumb salute!



Ok thats about me for now. I will do some revisions in the future and add things as they come to mind. I expect once I get on the road I will have a few more insights to share. Feel free to add your suggestions as comments!

Resources

EEEUSER
Google
me


Post Australian Sojourn update

Right so we traversed the tasman. Soaked up the sun and hunkered down for the wet.

My mobile geek system worked well and I have a few ideas for refinements.

Use usb charging cables if at all possible. Did you know most phones and gadgets can be charged with a usb cable? This is a great space efficient way to keep your tech tools juiced up and it means you don't need to worry about universal adapters and bulky ac adapters.

Work offline. Work offline. Work offline. I burned through quite a lot of bandwidth and money doing stuff online. It is counter productive and expensive. Use the web for backing up or showing off your work when it is ready.

I have found this tool invaluable. HTTrack lets you mirror favourite websites to storage for offline browsing. Download your favourite travel websites before you start traveling and use them off line.







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