Techy Toys and Social Media

Warning. This update is all to do with things that normal people will find exceptionally boring. As you may have guessed by now, I’m not that normal 🙂. I do however promise this won’t be a regular occurrence.

This is quick rundown of the gear I’ll be taking with me across the States, and the web services I’ll be using to keep this site updated.

Laptop – Macbook Air
The thing about the Macbook Air is that you either get its purpose, or you don’t. There does not appear to be any middle ground, it really is the Marmite of computers. Myself, I fall into the ‘love it’ camp. It’s light enough that I can carry it in my backpack without growing to despise it by the end of the day. Its far more powerful then a netbook, and with a large screen, trackpad and keyboard far more suited to photography on the road. My MBA is going to be the main way of keeping this site up to date. Writing and adding photos at night or when traveling, and then uploading when I next hit a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Video Camera – Sony TG3-E
A beautiful, small brushed titanium HD video camera. Again compact enough to be carried without complaint, and more then capable of great images. This records to memory stick, which I can dump onto a hard-drive at the end of the day. My only real criticism is the battery life, which I why I will be taking a spare battery with me.

Stills Camera – Canon G10
I debated long and hard before deciding to purchase the G10. Given that photography is one of the primary reasons for the trip, it may seem surprising that I am not taking an SLR. Believe me, I’ve asked the same question. What swung the decision for me in the end was the memory of visiting Turkey last year. I took the full assortment with me, and spent far more time playing with the camera then actually experiencing the country I went to visit. The G10, whilst not small is far more manageable then a D80 and a host of lenses. The camera will still allow manual controls and generates sufficiently high quality images that the trade off between the highest quality and practicality is not too large.

I don’t think that this needs much introduction. My iPhone is network unlocked and hopefully I can pick up a pre-paid simcard in the States that will allow me data access. If I can one, then that will allow me to update the site whilst on the move. Otherwise, updates from the phone will be limited to when I can hop on a Wi-Fi hotspot as our wonderful phone company charges #6 per mb for international data. A charge I sure we can all agree is reasonable.

GPS Tracker – Holux M-241
This little gizmo resembling a 35mm roll of film is a GPS tracker. Every few seconds it records my location, creating a track that can be viewed in Google Earth. I use this to Geocode my photographs. This means that my photos can be viewed on a map showing within a few feet the location they were taken.

Book – Sony E-Reader-505
Nothing to do with updating the website, but everything to do with keeping me sane during those overnight train journeys and on the plane. Like the Macbook Air, you either get e-books or you don’t . All I will say is that this allows me to carry a hell of a lot of books at a fraction of the weight of a single paperback.

Bits and Bobs
Apart from chargers for each of the about, I’ll also be taking a Joby Gorillapod in place of a photographic tripod. I’ve heard things about them and I just hope its all accurate. Also for the camera I’ll be taking a Canon remote release for those night shots and a selection of SD cards. For the laptop I’ll be taking a very compact 4-port USB hub by Griffin, and a 320GB pocketable hard drive to dump the days photos and videos on, as well a few TV programs for those overnight train journeys.

Web Services and applications
This site has been built using Rapidweaver on the Mac, together with a number of plug-ins. However, the content is all updated using web services that I can update from any computer, or even my iPhone.

The main blog is fed from Googles Blogger service. Anything that gets sent to Blogger will automatically update the blog page here. I can write updates both online at the website, or offline on my Macbook. I also have an iPhone app named iBlogger that allows me to update when on the move.

The photo page on this site is dynamically created via a Flickr set. Anything that I add to that set will automatically synchronize with this site. Generally I will upload photos to Flickr via Lightroom on the Mac, but I can also upload via the iPhone using an app called Mobile Fotos.

The current media darling is of course Twitter. Any Twitter updates I make will show on the main page of the site. I can use Tweetie on the iPhone to send updates or to upload photos taken with the iPhone. Twitter is also very useful because of the amount of services that will send a tweet when updated.

Front Page Map
Something I really like it the updating map on the main page. Using an iPhone app called Track My Tour, I can upload co-ordinates to the Track My Tour website, along with photos, current weather conditions and a brief text update. I can then embed this as a Google Map which updates when I send new co-ordinates creating a trail of the entire journey.

I’ll be trying to add some short video clips to the blog, which I will upload to Youtube. I don’t know how frequent this will be- probably every few days.

Audio Updates
Audioboo is a great little iPhone app being used to great effect by Stephen Fry and Leo Laporte. I don’t know how often I’ll be using this, but I will certainly be creating a few boos. Even if I don’t use it too much, I really recommend checking out the service as this will be the next big thing

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