Saturday, January 05, 2008

Electronic Prep for Travel

We're on the road again ... the count-down has begun for final prep to go 'down under' ... 18 hours of flight, plus transfer times ... whew. The leg from LA to Auckland, NZ is 12 hrs .. then to Sydney. So, I needed some serious in-flight distractions. Enter -- the electronic toy chest. Have plenty of mags and books in the backpack. But we decided AGAINST our laptops (that's a first), since we scored free use of computer time on the cruise ship ... a major bennie at 50 cents a minute! Whew. (And anyway -- I didn't want to risk damage to the laptop, considering a client road assignment in February, where I'll convert news videos to the web.) So ... not only are we disconnected in long-flight, but I can't even spin disks. So, what's a poor travel geek to do -- assuming the inflight movies don't keep me amused?

1) MUSIC: Thumb-size iRiver MP3 player ... loaded with about 200+ songs (mostly golden oldies), selections from NPR classical concerts, and a few talk shows. Good for starters and down-time.... especially exercise workouts aboard ship. But I need more.

2) MOVIES & MANUALS: An 8-inch wide portable DVD player, which plays movies, but unfortunately not computer DVD Roms with teaching manuals. (I considered movies on my PDA, but that's too small ... and a pain to dub and load.) I really need to use this trip to study about 12+ hours of software lessons for the new Adobe CS3 Suite of authoring tools, which are on DVD-ROM. This is a formal tech course by Total Training and Adobe. THE Problem: playing a computer disk DVD-Rom, on a portable DVD movie player. Not an easy conversion, and it's allot of content -- time is critical now. Well, it so happens that I have a so-called "scan-converter" ... which takes the signal from the RGB plug going to the computer monitor, passes it thru the black-box, and back to the monitor -- diverting a 2nd signal to an S-video connection or an RCA output. So, I just hook that to a stand-alone DVD recorder, with the audio output .... and dub the courses (in real time) ... all the 12 hours of lessons from DVD-Rom disks, to common DVD movie disks, in full resolution, bypassing all the (uh, encryuption)... oops, gave away a dubbing secret. Fortunately, there isn't much interactivity. I had to be sure to neutralize the screen saver and monitor power timers... then just let it tape on LP for four hours per disk of lesson content. Yes, it's minimal quality, but small screen.

3) iPAQ PDA ... well, I need some games, Yahtzee, Sudoku, Monopoly, Casino games, etc etc.... and in a pinch, it is wireless Internet receiver, for airports, etc., and collects all the news and mail from home. Pocket-size. I shouldn't need it on the ship if I use their machines. Very small screen.

4) CAMERAS: another compromise to travel light, but must bring back 'usable' memories. For sure, the Aiptek HD camera goes with me, for videos. Granted, the audio sucks ... so the MP3 player might save the day there, with it's mic recorder for on-site narratives, if needed. I could also use the Aiptek for stills, considering it's high 8MP resolution, especially when I need a pocket camera ... like a river raft ride. BUT ... it has no zoom lens or wide angle. So ... I'm also bringing my trusted high-quality Sony F828 digital still camera, for the keepsake photos, when I have the luxury of a camera hanging around my neck... or both. It's allso 8Mp... but far superior glass and zoom, etc. Cost 10X more. I'll be leaving all the other pro video gear at home. Just not right for a cruise ... travel light.

5) CELLPHONE: decided against international expense for calls. Will send email. But I have it along anyway -- just in case, it will work most anywhere, and also connects to the web and email. Ultra-small screen. Yuuch.

So ... a few small electronic devices to save my hide on travel -- all smaller than a laptop, AND it all goes in the backpack with snacks and mags. Only hurdle is power ... batteries. All are rechargeable. And I bring spares. Yes, I'm covered for music, movies, and manuals ... to get thru long flights, news and email. When I'm not sleeping, reading, eating and of course -- being a tourist. Stay tuned for further news ... from 'down-under' on the RadBlog at: