I will update this page every now and then by having a simple summary at the top with some rants. I am mostly keeping this page for the nostalgia of how I used to do things, which is what you see far below, and a chance to rant about how things are now. That was how I used to do things, when technology was not so ever present in people's lives.
There is more (old) info (ranting) on my Communication Technology Page - which I no longer update. Any current stuff is on this page:
I try to keep my tech as low as possible, while still giving me all the capability I desire. In the past, traveling with technology was unusual and expensive. Keeping it simple made it affordable. Now, everyone has cellphones, tablets can be gotten cheap, and laptop computers are smaller and more affordable. Still, simple is good.
When I travel, I generally only bring a smart phone, but I sometimes bring a small cheap laptop. If I bring my laptop I will update my web page occasionally, keeping it as basic as possible. Whether I have a Phone or computer I will e-mail updates to family and close friends when they are available. I currently have a Nexus 5x Phone from Google, and Google FI for phone service, which allows internet calls and can be used internationally for a fairly small monthly fee, less than $25/month with the way I use it. The cell phone will do anything I need to, and most of what I want to do. It kinda' sucks compared to a computer, but it is so much smaller that sometimes that is all I bring.
If I am not sure if I will be near a power supply at all times I will bring an external battery to charge my phone.
I prefer a real camera to a smart phone for pics. A phone can be more convenient, but the pics just don't look as good as those from a real camera. I share these photos in various ways, using Dropbox, Google Photos, Web Pages etc. I tried a dedicated photo program on my website, but it required too much maintenance.
I do have a Kindle Paperwhite for reading. The fact that I can read in the dark or in bright sunlight without eyestrain and that there are no other distractions on the device other than the books I am reading means that it is far handier for my uses than a tablet computer.
When on the bike I use a dedicated GPS as a dedicated one just works better with fewer issues than a cell phone or tablet, and having a GPS on the bike makes it a ton easier to travel. Less time is spent with maps and re-routing after getting lost. For trips where I am not on the bike, I will use my phone, or a second phone used as a tablet. These take a lot of battery power if used continuously, so I tend to keep them off until I need them.
I generally travel with a SPOT tracker to track my route (www.findmespot.com). This is a device that figures out your location via GPS satellites, then every 5 minutes it sends that location via satellite to a database. It also has a button to summon help such as 911. I can also use the Bubbler App on my phone if I want to keep track of my locations. This drains the battery faster than I would like, but it saves my track and uploads it the next time I have WiFi. I use Spotwalla.com to keep a map of the data points from my SPOT and my Bubbler App.
I occasionally use the Kitestring.io service. This is a website and texting service. You can send a text to it, or log into the website to activate it. You set a timer for how long you think you will be away. Then, if you do not reset it via the website or text to it with your phone, it will send texts or e-mails to whoever is on your contact list telling them you are overdue. This is good for hiking or off road riding or anytime you might be worried about something happening to you without anyone knowing about it. If your contacts get the message, they know enough to look for you, normally calling you, but also looking at your Map Tracks. This way you do not have to tell people when you are going to be away, but once set, it requires no action from you until you return.
For writing, I have tried my phone with a Bluetooth keyboard, which helps some, but it is still hard to write on the road. If I do not have a computer with me, I generally just take notes on paper and type them into my website when I get home. I am forever looking for a good and inexpensive solution for this. On most trips I am too busy to really write, but on some trips there is a lot of downtime. This would be a great time to write.
Internet Cafes have pretty much disappeared most places, so those are out, and I never really trusted them anyway.
I still have this website. It is the best way for me to store and share the writings I want to keep. I like looking back at the things I did and thought in the past. For current stories I like E-Mail best. Short bits with a pic or two are a great way to keep people informed and to create the beginnings of a story.
I tried Facebork. I wanted it to work, I really did, but it drove me crazy. The posts are so chaotic, so random, and so hard to follow that it takes a tremendous amount of time if you really want to see what is happening with your friends. The algorithms that are used to decide what to show you are horrible. It would be tolerable if people would use it more like a blog, and only put information into real posts, and not put life info into comments on other people's posts etc. If people did this, you could just go to each persons "Posts" page and see what is up with them. The main point to remember on these "free" services is that you are not the customer, you are the product. I have not yet gotten to the point of deleting my account but I want to. Unfortunately, I have to adapt to the way most people communicate.
Try getting someone's photos in Full Resolution! With Facebook, MMS and all the other common programs that people use to communicate, it is almost impossible to get a full resolution photo from anyone. I have tried, believe me. A good example is one time a friend had a great pic that I really wanted. It really needed some cropping, but the person could not figure out how to get the pics to me full resolution. I finally had to get on their cell phone and do it myself. Another friend had an iPhone with what was supposed to be a great camera. It was set on VGA. Great pics, but too low of a resolution to do anything with them. WHY do people have $700 phones that take 12 MP photos if they never use the resolution.
I have heard Cell Phones referred to as our own personal Dopamine Pumps.
I still have an actual Blog, but I don't use it. If I was writing smaller more frequent posts, it would be a good way to record my stories, but I don't trust the ones that can be gotten for free, and putting one on my website requires more maintenance than I would like. I may use Blogger in the future when I retire and really start moving around, but I am not sure. I would likely copy any posts to this website when I have better computer access.
TABLETS - -Tablets are basically a poor excuse for a computer. They have few advantages over a computer, and many disadvantages.
-If you want a tablet, you probably just need a large Smart"Phone".
-Get a computer instead. For less money, you can get more capability.
-They suck to read with. They hurt your eyes. Get an E-Reader if you want to read.
-Can you tell I don't like tablets?
If I ruled the world, there would be changes made. The way I see it, there are two types of communication: Now and Later. All "Now" communication would be either telephone calls (including voice mail), or SMS texts. Unfortunately, there are occasions you need MMS since SMS does not work properly with groups, but those occasions should be rare. "Later" communication could be in various formats, but E-Mail would be the primary. If I don't need the information now, then I can get it whenever I want with e-mail. I can also save it as I see fit. For big group type things, Forums are the ideal solution. They can be created for any subject, and a moderator can keep it civil and control the membership. Awesome. For keeping large numbers of people informed of your travels you could create an e-mail list that people can sign up to. With these various methods, everyone has more or less complete control of how public they are, and who they have to listen to. The problem is, they are no longer a product, they are a customer, so it would be difficult to get a company to provide these things for free. It is too bad that I do not rule the world. The world would be much simpler.
-Don't put something on Facebork and think that I will read it now, or ever.
-Don't use some weird messaging service thinking I will read it now, or ever.
-Don't use social media to send photos. Use e-mail.
-The only proper phone would be an old style flip phone, NOT a feature phone. A phone should do two things: Phone calls & SMS (MMS might be necessary, but better not to use it)
-A smart phone is a computer, NOT a phone. Sure, it is small enough to fit in your pocket (most anyway), but it is hundreds of dollars of computer. It is nice that you "can" be connected all the time, but this should be something that you turn on when you have time to putz around, NOT something that is on all the time.
-People who do not have much money are still spending hundreds of dollars a month between their phone and their service. There is no good reason for this.
-A phone should not be a personal Dopamine Pump.
2013 - Although some of the info below is still pretty valid, some is way out of date. When I first wrote this, not many people were up on the kind of technology needed to communicate when on the road. I have edited it some through the years, but it is now past the point of being useful for anything other than nastalgia. Nowadays, everyone in every level of country has a basic working knowledge of technology. Even if nothing more than how to text on their cell phone.
I have been asked how I keep up with my BLOG and my Web Page while on the road. I normally take handwritten notes and occasionally find an Internet Cafe to type this in. In the USA, this is very tricky as there are not a lot of Internet Cafe's around and most are very expensive, but most of the rest of the world they are everywhere and fairly cheap. Still, it is easier to do this than to bring a computer, charger, case, and all the othe crap that goes along with a computer.
An internet cafe is a place with computers attached to the internet. Sometimes it is just a room with a few or a lot of computers. Sometimes it is very much a cafe with food and drinks and places to congregate and talk with people.
Sometimes these cafe's have old crappy hardware, sometimes it is state of the art. Care must be taken since it is possible that someone has put a program or device on the computer to spy on your activity and steal your passwords.
There are some drawbacks to Internet Cafe's.
But there are some benefits, besides not having to bring a lot of stuff.
Bloggers are on-line services that allow you to enter text by date and then people can just view what you wrote. Basically, they are Web Logs, similar to a diary. I do not like the format of any of them. I have tried a lot of them. They display newest first, so if someone has not been reading them on a regular basis it is confusing. You have little real control on how it displays, for example, most of them do not use a true black text. The text is almost black. When printed, many of these are hard to read. It also does not make it easy for the viewer to dictate the text. I gave up on these. I still have one and may use it for *I am alive* kind of messages, although I also have a *Group* which allows me to send updates to an unlimited number of people at one time.
I like web pages. I can easily dictate exactly how it will display. It is easy to backup and control. One problem though, is that the free ones don't always give me what I want. I want to keep a directory structure on the web site the same as I keep on my hard drive, pictures and all. Some of the free websites do not allow you to create your own structure. For example, googlepages requires all files to be in one directory, if they are files you created from scratch. This includes photos. That would get very confusing with a lot of pictures. Another I use will limit how many megabytes viewers can see in a month/day. That means if there are a lot of pics, only a few users can look at them before the systems shuts everyone down for a while. Some place ads on your webpage, changing the look of it.
What I have settled on, is to keep my pages with words in googlepages.com and my pics in my smugmug account, then to set up links for some of the best pics. This is a lot more time consuming than keeping the pics in the same directory as the page since smugmug does not use the standard file name in the link.
I keep trying, but I have yet to find the perfect *free* way of keeping my info on-line.
As anyone that knows me will tell you, I don't like technology. Realistically, I don't like relying on technology and I beleive that technology should make our lives LESS, not more complicated. Bringing a laptop computer should not require me to carry power supplies and other assorted crap. I also beleive that ALL items brought should be waterproof. I ride motorcycles.... sometimes things get wet. It blows my mind that I have to put my phone someplace dry if it starts to rain.
So, the technology I currently carry when on the road consists of a couple of LED flashlights. If in the USA I also carry a Pay As You Go cell phone from Tracfone.com and a charging cord that allows it to be charged by a car/bike battery. If I don't bring a phone, I bring an alarm clock.
I have considered bringing a laptop. I have even brought one on a few occasions when traveling by car. What I have found is that if you are going to have a lot of downtime at hotels with wireless computer access and you have a lot of room, they are pretty handy. You can look up the website of the museum at the town you plan on being in a couple of days from now. This could let you know that they are not open on Monday's which could allow you to change your plans. Of course, you have all the other crap on the misinformation net to keep you entertained.
But I just have not found the burden of carrying one to be worth it for most of my travel. I have looked for something else continuously. There are things out there that will help, but none of them quite do it for me. It doesn't help that I am CHEAP. If a gadget was something that I would use all the time, I might spend some big bucks on it. Maybe.
COMPUTER - For me to bring a true laptop computer they would have to be redesigned. The size should be Ultra small. It should be thin and no bigger than absolutely necessary for the keyboard. I don't realy need a CD drive for on the road. Another requirement is no power supply. There should be one connector on the back of the computer that takes noisy automotive voltages so it can be hooked up directly to the car/bike with nothing more than a wire. No extra crap. Indoors you could use any 12V supply, like the one that comes with many AA battery chargers. It would be even better if the batteries were AA and the unit could be used as a charger for AA and AAA NiMh batteries for other uses.
ASUS EEE PC COMPUTER - This is a slick little device that is a true computer. It has a small keyboard and screen and only a small chip based hard drive but it can do most everything you need to do on the road. If there is WIFI available you will have web access and it runs normal computer programs. If you really need more storage than the computer has and what can be put on a USB flash drive, you can get an external hard drive. Now we are back to having too much crap. There are now a number of other manufacturers making inexpensive, small computers, many with good sized hard drives and OK screen sizes.
SONY VAIO TZ COMPUTER - Sony makes a very small, full function computer, but it is VERY expensive, although you can sometimes get cheaper refurbished units. And, as with most computers, you have to bring a power supply, and be very careful with it.
BATTERIES - anything that runs on batteries should run on AA or AAA, even a laptop computer.
POCKETMAIL - I tried a Pocketmail device. This is a trick little thing with a small keyboard, a small text screen and a modem. www.pocketmail.com It does e-mail, and a little spreedsheet, memo, scheduling and such. It runs on AA batteries. To use it, you type in your e-mail and when you are near a phone you dial a 1-800 number then hold the device against the phone to send and receive mail. Text only. This worked OK, but phone calls were not always cheap and did not always work in some countries. If it had a memory card that could have been removed and used in a computer it might have worked well.
PALM PILOT - A palm pilot or other handheld with a folding keyboard would work, but none of the new ones run on AA/AAA batteries. There are some that can connect to the internet, but these are expensive. At the moment, this would be the best bet, but I am too cheap and don't want to carry one of these AND a charger AND a keyboard AND worry about losing such an expensive device.
SMART PHONES - These can make a LOT of sense. They are not cheap, especially if you want to use them worldwide, BUT, they can be set up to not only make phone calls, but also connect to the internet. You can even use them as a modem to connect your laptop to the internet without needing WIFI or any wires. If you really NEED internet access at all times, these may be the best choice.
HANDWRITING - I had even considered writing my notes by hand then just downoading a photograph of my notes to the web. Unfortunately, my handwriting is terrible and the pics would take up a ton of memory on my website and be hard to read.
FUTURE - So what am I likely to try in the future? Probably nothing. I have pretty much given up on any technology being available anytime soon that will do what I really want. If I ever get to living on the road, I may get something like the ASUS EEE PC, otherwise, I will travel naked.