Thursday, 15 September 2011

Gadgets and gizmos galore

Right, so I am now going to show my incredibly geeky side by sharing with you a few of the technological bits and bobs that are transforming our trip. I hope I can be forgiven since a lot of this stuff is pretty cool, and I do (did-eek!) work in technology afterall. Having been on a similar round the world adventure about five years ago, I am pretty excited by how much things have changed 'on the road' and how many gizmos, gadgets, and apps there are now to make life even easier for the travelling nomad:

1.       Evernote – A note taking/filing cloud-based application. This little gem of a solution has already helped me plan for the trip and will continue to help me sort my thoughts and learnings as I continue on the road. With a web clipping icon, a phone app, a desk top version, an email address and an online login, i can be sure to capture and tag my thoughts, websites, photos as i go along – amazing!

2.       Kindle – The Amazon e-reader. I have spent the past year or so completely pooh pooh-ing the kindle and e-readers in general. Who wants to read on an electronic device when you can feel the book in your hands, turn the pages, smell the scent of musty paper...I never thought that I would succumb to the e-book revolution but I have to say that, as a backpacker, it makes total sense to have one in your bag, if just for the guide books alone. This doesn’t mean that I will forego carrying a few books for swapsy reasons but it is certainly a handy piece of kit. Word to amazon though – you need to make lending books to other kindle users easier, and available for a longer period of time. Also, if you buy a phsycial copy of a book, the electronic version should be free.

3.       Asus Netbook – We decided to buy an Asus netbook after much research and deliberation over the various different models. It came highly recommended by our friends Hol and Nick and we have not been disappointed. I LOVE our little netbook – it is lightweight, stylish yet robust, comes with a wonderful matte screen that can be read even in bright sunlight and is going to be our best friend on this trip (i'm typing on it as we speak). I have been completely bowled over by the fact that everywhere we go has a good wifi connection...this was definitely not the case a few years ago but makes things so much easier, and travelling with some sort of wifi compatible device, essential.

4.       Picasa - A photo filing/editing manager. Many of you will be familiar with Flickr. Picasa is essentially the google version of the same thing. However, it not only enables you to upload albums to the web, but also has a desktop version where you can store all your photos in high res, edit them, create albums and sync with the online database when you're ready. Having reluctantly left Photoshop behind, their editing suite at least enables me to make a few basic tweaks to our snaps on the road which is fantabulous.

5.       Skype - This is an obvious one but definitely worth mentioning. When I first went around the world many moons ago, Skype was very much in existence but not widely used, at least by my own friends and family. Since then there has been an IP phone revolution and everyone uses it to keep it touch. Not only that but internet connections have improved and are able to better cope with the demands of the solution. I love being able to call my friends and family from a private place (instead of a busy street, or phone box), talk for as long as I like and actually see their faces through the web cam - it really feels like I'm there in the room with them.

The jury is still out on whether all of these hi-tech developments enhance the travelling experience or not...I have to admit I was pretty dubious at first as I've always seen travelling as means to get away from the incessant stream of communications which seem to govern our daily lives. However, having got my head around it, I am loving all the bits I've discussed above. Of course, we're trying not to go too overboard on the portable gadgets. In addition to the above, we've only got 2 cameras, 2 mp3/smart phones, 2 kindles, 1 set of speakers and 1 extremely expensive calculator (don't ask me) with us! Oh dear!...

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