Trip Reporting on the Road

Discussion in 'Trip Planning' started by tricepilot, Sep 4, 2007.

  1. tricepilot

    tricepilot El Gran Payaso

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    When planning to make a great trip, might as well plan to produce a great ride report at the same time....during the ride

    Ride reports from the field, as they evolve in-progress, are very entertaining. I'd like to see tips on the technical end of producing a ride report "on the fly" versus waiting to return home with camera full of photos and a lot of writing to do. I'm sure there are many ways to skin that cat.

    What type of laptop, what type of camera, and especially how to connect, both here in the U.S. as well as Alaska, Canada, and farther beyond the border (my personal interest is Mexico and Latin America). That's the type of information I'd like to see in this thread. Some people look like they're in the middle of nowhere, yet are posting 20 pics a day and telling a great story. I like the aspect of virtually riding along with them, as its happening.

    - Tips
    - Tricks
    - Finding internet connections
    - Gear recommendations
    - Internet service providers
    - Internet cafe sites in interesting places
    - Uploading photos (hopefully to smugmug, to support Baldy and this site).

    If you've done a trip report "in progress", what did you do right, what went wrong, and what would you do different.


    Muchas Gracias in advance!

    Bob

    :lurk
    #1
  2. AndrewAnonymous

    AndrewAnonymous Making things worse.

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    Finding WiFi in America and Canada wasn't too difficult. Asking if there's a internet coffee shop usually works. Buy a cheap cup of coffee and it's usually free. Some places I've ran into had weird deals though were they tried to charge for wireless. Even places like Wendy's or McDonalds will have it, if you can stomach it. Libraries usually have free wireless even in some small towns. I've sat outside on picnic tables near USFS offices and picked up their wireless too.

    Doing a trip report from the road can eat up a lot of time, so if you're on a schedule I'd say wait.

    Next time I do a ride report from the road I plan on getting a simple URL that will redirect (like http://www.tiny.cc/) to the AdvRider report. Something that would be easy to give people on the road instead of a long URL for a thread here. Maybe even print up some cheapo business cards.
    #2
  3. Lone Rider

    Lone Rider Registered User

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    Load you pics onto your laptop.
    Borrow net cafe cord.
    Hope smugmug sucks up your pics.
    Get a cold 6 pack and fresh pack of cigs.
    Let the lies pour forth...:D


    It's whatever works for you, not necessarily someone else.
    #3
  4. tricepilot

    tricepilot El Gran Payaso

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    #4
  5. tricepilot

    tricepilot El Gran Payaso

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    I've had stuff turn to dust in the sidecases.

    Wondering if an armored laptop such as this (Panasonic) would help

    [​IMG]
    #5
  6. Lone Rider

    Lone Rider Registered User

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    One Net place in Champoton, MX two years ago where the two young, entrepreneurial punks running the joint and I couldn't figure out some cable config/whatever thing.
    This actually turned out to be a good thing, because the other Net place dude let me smoke while typing in his place. Everybody knows nicotine makes for better BS.

    Granted, back in Hannibal's time, not that many people carried laptops on their elephant; things are different today, and it's not an unusual request for a customer wishing to plugin their own idiot box.

    The need to dump pics is probably 77% of the reasons I like to carry a laptop. And the other 33% really makes no sense...
    #6
  7. Lone Rider

    Lone Rider Registered User

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    I carry the laptop ontop of my clean and stinky clothes, and I've never had one to die on me...while on the road.

    It's really how you pack them, IMO.
    #7
  8. pilot

    pilot Slacker Moderator Super Moderator

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    I found using a flash drive works really well for transferring pics and words to your site. You can usually use them anywhere, and if you are using your laptop, you've already composed the report and have it ready to send. Makes the internet cafe bill smaller.

    I like using a blog as well. Less distraction from the peanut gallery.
    #8
  9. Spicy McHaggis

    Spicy McHaggis Darth Peach's cracker...

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    Those Toughbooks are bad ass.

    Also expensive as all hell...about 3000 bucks or so, last I checked.
    #9
  10. tricepilot

    tricepilot El Gran Payaso

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    l


    Agree. I'm thinking a smaller, much less expensive model that's carefully packed as Lone Rider said is the way to go. Basic camera, basic laptop and just get out there and go for it. That way, if something happened to either one of them it wouldn't break the bank and you could more easily replace one or the other and move on.
    #10
  11. SWriverstone

    SWriverstone Woodpecker

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    A few thoughts to add...

    Don't underestimate the build of your laptop—I carried my HP Pavilion laptop (a big "desktop replacement" model) on its side in one of my hardcases, only wrapped in a fleece jacket, for 5,000 miles to Newfoundland and back last fall—on a KLR! Never had a problem. I'm posting this on the same laptop now. (That was 90% pavement, but included some mileage on bumpy dirt roads.)

    Also, if your digital camera uses SD memory cards, get one of these:
    http://www.simpletech.com/commercial/usbflashdrives/Bonzai.php
    Really fantastic—it's a USB key ("ThumbDrive") that accepts an SD card of any size. (Great if your laptop doesn't have an SD slot, or if you want to upload pics from another desktop somewhere.)

    I found that even in remote areas of Newfoundland, wi-fi was everywhere (especially in motels). It's getting that common. I think these days, wi-fi has almost reached the point of electricity—people think you're hopelessly backwards if you don't have it and blow off your establishment!

    IMPORTANT TIP! Much as we all love to post our reports and pics directly into forums like ADVRider, you're better off posting to your own website or photo-hosting site (e.g. Smugmug, Flickr, etc.) where you can also add text notes for each photo.

    I posted tons of photos and wrote thousands of words on another forum during my trip...and a month after I returned, the site crashed. (UGH!) So I re-did everything on a Smugmug site. Though I doubt ADVRider is going anywhere, I still think you're better off posting to your own site (and back everything up when you get home!).

    Scott

    Newfoundland 2006 Photo Journal:
    http://swriverstone.smugmug.com/Travel/352156
    #11
  12. PhilSpace

    PhilSpace The Gov Administrator

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    The Toughbook family isn't as tough as some of them look. The Communications Electronics Command started fielding them and found that they too have their problems.

    It's balancing act with money. I have been using a tiny Sony Vaio T350. I would shoot for smaller size which will give you the ability to pack it away better. Mr. hard on my Toys Steverino and Shogs used pelican cases and even her POS monster Gateway survived the Alaska trip.

    If you are hard over, there is the Durabook, Dell is now in the ruggedized market with an intermediate on under the Dell brand and a full militarized one that we just got to play with at work. The only catch is, the Panasonic and Dell are right pricey.

    I think the big thing after fixing several notebooks for people that have traveled, is assume that it will break. Be like Bob and get your six pack and upload your stuff at every opportunity and also keep things backed up on thumb drives or an external hard drive. If it doesn't break, it might be stolen or lost as well.
    #12
  13. pilot

    pilot Slacker Moderator Super Moderator

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    I'm using a cheap Dell that's been to Panama and back. So far,.....

    Back up often, upload often. New laptops are starting to get cheap. It might be worth your while to buy a new cheap one and start off with that.

    My last trip south, I used blogging software. I liked using that. It kept the distraction of the peanut gallery to a minimum. I also used a trip report thread for pictures. That made a place for comments. Hmmmm. I wonder if Baldy is busy. :rofl
    #13
  14. tricepilot

    tricepilot El Gran Payaso

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    [​IMG]

    Here is something similar

    [​IMG]

    Computer giant Fujitsu displays the company’s new paperback book-sized notebook PC “FMV-Lifebook U8240″, based on the latest platform of Intel’s Ultra Mobile Platform 2007 and a 5.6-inch swivel and flip multi-angle LCD display on its compact body, weighing 580g, at the company’s advanced technology exhibition in Tokyo on 18 May 2007. This will be available for sale in the market during next month with an expected price of $1,200
    #14
  15. PhilSpace

    PhilSpace The Gov Administrator

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    Awesome, and the right price. At that size, you can easily protect it and not feel too bad if it disappears or get's JackHole'd.
    #15
  16. pilot

    pilot Slacker Moderator Super Moderator

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    I really like a real sized keyboard. I'd have to learn to touch type one handed with that. :D
    #16
  17. J. Clarke

    J. Clarke Been here awhile

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    Personally I carried my three year old Gateway on my recent trip through parts of Canada. Carried it in Pelican camera bag in a Pelican hard case and it suffered no ill effects at all. The trick IMO is to give it some padding and immobilize it so that it doesn't bounce around in the case.

    Basically, any decent laptop should be fine--the things that are likely to fail are the drive due to shock and vibration and the screen due to force applied at the center or to twisting. A decent case will go far to protect both, and modern laptop drives are pretty durable anyway.

    Do power it down and not put it on standby--on standby some notebooks will occasionally power up on their own, which unparks the drive (many notebook drives park the head on a ramp that lifts it off the platters) and renders it much more susceptible to vibration and shock damage.

    As for cameras, I carried a Canon 30D DSLR with a whole bunch of lenses--the ones I used most were the 10-22 wide angle and the 70-300 tele--the rest I could have levet at home. Next time I think I'm going to carry the Canon with the 10-22 and my Panasonic FZ7 instead of the other lenses in order to (a) save volume and weight and (b) have some video capability. If you're looking for something small, light, and versatile, a Panasonic DMC-FZ8 or its Canon more-or-less equivalent would be a good bet as long as you understand it's limitations. One of the shock- and water- resistant models from Olympus or Pentax would be less flexible photographically but you can throw it in your pocket and forget about it (on questionable surfaces I'd put it in the tank bag though, not to protect the camera but because it's not a particularly comfortable thing to fall on).

    One thing to consider--if you're getting a digital SLR, get one with an automatic dust remover--I got dust on my sensor on the 30D a couple of times--if I carry a DSLR on another trip that involves gravel or dirt roads I'm thinking about getting one of the new Digital Rebel XTis for that reason--ordinarily dust is not an issue, but if you're changing lenses on a gravel road you're going to get some dust.
    #17
  18. VelvtRide

    VelvtRide i can haz a motrsykle?

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    I have the T350, too. I've used the hell outta this thing and it just doesn't give me any problems (other than being a bit on the slow side 1.4 mobile processor). It's freakish tiny!

    For dumping pics while on the road: I use my laptop, then upload to smugmug. But what about running out of space on your card while still not to your destination? If you have an iPod, use this:

    [​IMG]

    Then you won't have to delete images from the card to gain space.
    #18
  19. rocker59

    rocker59 diplomatico di moto

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    Last year, I carried my HP Pavillion dv2000 in a Targus briefcase inside a Hepco + Becker pannier during a 2-week, 4,500-mile trip on my Moto Guzzi LeMans.

    No problems with the laptop. I downloaded pics and updated my ride report in the hotel room at night. It really saved a lot of time because going through 300+ photos and two weeks of time after I got back wasn't appealing to me. I did that on a trip the year before and it took weeks to get the report done once I got back home...

    Utah Trip 2006
    #19
  20. SourcetoSea

    SourcetoSea Adventurer

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    I've used the crap out of an old Handspring PDA and folding keyboard for writing. When we paddled the Mississippi, I used a Pocketmail device with pretty good results, but if I were to do it all over again I'd get a wifi-enabled PDA, folding keyboard, and a couple of big-ass memory cards and call it a day. Memory is getting so cheap these days that is just makes sense for me to get a couple of 2-4 gig cards for photos instead of chasing down internet connections all the time.

    Here a piece I did on Writing on the Run
    http://sourcetosea.net/Blog/files/41d5a82d8fd554a1b852e40a31151b4d-3.html

    I also used a service on the Cape Fear River to do podcasts directly from my cell phone called GCast. Pretty cool, and it was free.
    http://sourcetosea.net/CapeFear/audio/audio.html

    I'm a huge fan of voice recording for journaling. I never seem to sit down and actually write much during the day, but it's easy just ramble on to a recorder. Getting that stuff transcribed is like pulling teeth, but there ain't no free rides!
    #20