The European Caper

From:
Still at home
Preparing for the trip.

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Technology for the trip

With the big trip on the horizon, I've had to plan the tech I want to take along. (Please feel free to click or tap on the stamp above, if you want to skip this geek-heavy journal entry.)

Sadly my DSLR Camera is too heavy, so I'm going to have to get by with my phone camera. My phone is also going to have to stand in for my beloved Kindle, as I can't justify the space for that either.

This will be the first time I've taken my own phone (having purchased a cheap, "dumb", disposable phone on arrival in the past). Telstra assure me that my current phone (an old HTC One M8) isn't locked to them, and so I'm just going to buy a local SIM card, and intend to rely on my email client, Skype and SMS for communication. There's no way I'm letting Facebook Messenger suck all the information off my phone, and I'm not one for WhatsApp or the other SMS-replacement-wannabe's.

The one major item I do need is a laptop (to finish coding this website, apart from anything else). My existing laptop weighs a tonne, and its chips are starting to creak from old age, so the big holiday seemed like a great excuse to purchase a new one. Common sense told me that I should buy something cheap, because of the heightened risk of damage or theft during our travels, but tech-envy won out over prudence, and I bought a midrange ASUS Zenbook (weighing in at 1.6 kg's, including charger).

I love the look and feel of the ZenBook, but ASUS have loaded it with lots of unnecessary bloatware, and my first experience with Windows 10 has been frustrating, although not as horrendous as I expected. First step was to de-clutter the system, removing all the crap and "helpful" tools that ASUS had forced on me (such as the ASUS Giftbox "app" - the gift presumably intended to be from me to ASUS's marketing department). The only non-standard Windows "app" I've kept is Soda PDF, which looks like it might be worth trying out.

Next task was to install my preferred programs; specifically Bitdefender, Firefox, Filezilla, paint.net and PSPad. Despite the irritation Microsoft generally causes me, I think I will use the online version of Word, as I find Google's alternative a little annoying. I bought Word 2013 for my PC some time back, but their new focus on subscriptions seems too costly for it to be worth loading the full version on the laptop. I've also downloaded LibreOffice to try out on those occasions when I don't have an internet connection (probably most of the time, now that I think about it).

I've left out Bullzip PDF (my usual stalwart for printing to PDF – which I regularly do for saving copies of things, and as a mid-point when printing out web pages, so as to avoid covering my floor with A4 paper when a page hasn't been coded properly, or has a gazillion lines of T&C's appended to it), until I've had a chance to assess Soda PDF.

On the very unlikely chance that anyone want's to read more about my software and hardware choices, I've put some more details here.

Keeping my files on a rugged USB stick, kept securely with my passport, on my person, seems like the best way to keep them safe. I'll manually archive them to cloud storage when a secure internet connection is available.

My previous extended overseas stay was 12 years ago, and I'm amazed by how much technology has changed in that time. To say nothing of how it was on my first ever trip in the late 80's, when there was no consumer access to the internet, and we communicated via postcards (one way only), with those at home just having to assume we were alive and that the South American postal system was to blame when they didn't hear from us for weeks at a time. These days, I feel like I'm hardly going away at all.

Well that's it from me for the moment. I may update this post later, or just write another one, when the above plans and assumptions go awry.

Alistair