Sidebar: my blogging gear

In an earlier post I half jokingly wrote about all the electronics I was bringing with me. Let me explain what I brought and why.

Apple iPad
The iPad is essentially a mobile computer. I write my blog posts using WordPress’s mobile app and I import photos and videos from my Sony camera where I can edit them later. Since Internet connectivity is spotty at best, I can create my posts offline and upload them later. I’ve given Vicki access so that she can edit my posts (she’s not doing that yet so I’m the only one to blame for the crappy spelling and grammar at the moment).

The iPad is also my main entertainment unit. I have lots of music and videos, I can watch Netflix when I’m staying at a hotel, I have dozens of books to read, and of course, I can keep in touch with Gmail, Twitter, and Facebook. I can do my research on where I’m headed using the browser.

Another handy app is Instapaper. With this app you can save pages for viewing offline later. I’ve referred back to my captured Instapaper pages many times over the course of my travels. There are other apps that do this but I like this one and I have a lot of respect for the developer who wrote the app.

If anyone does not yet own an iPad you should get one now. They’re more revolutionary then the personal computer. Just don’t let your kids play with it or you’ll never see it again.

RIM Blackberry
This is my main device for keeping in touch with Vicki when I can’t get WiFi. Oh, and it’s a phone too. Rogers coverage has been poor so far but I expect it to improve. My next iPad (or iPhone) will have GSM and a data plan, and then I can skip this device (sorry RIM).

Sony HD Video and 5M pixel camera
This is a very small handheld device and it takes excellent photos and videos. I have a 16G SD card that I can pull out and import photos on to my iPad. Because this unit is small I can carry it in my handlebar bag (the iPad is a little too big for that). Again, a better choice in the future might be an iPhone.

Handheld Phillips voice recorder
This device has turned out to be a Godsend. It’s small and light, takes excellent recordings, suppressing a lot of background noise, and the battery seems to last for ever. I use it to record thoughts and observations along the route. I’ve tried a notepad before but I never want to stop to write something down. On the other hand, I can use this unit while I’m riding (I have a hands free mic).

When I arrive at my destination I play back my recordings to help me remember things. There’s something fascinating about hearing your own voice (out of breath because I just climbed a hill), or the sounds of water of birds in the background. I hope I can save these recordings for my kids or grand kids to listen to one day. Thanks go to Rosemary for suggesting this.

Garmin eTrex GPS
No one should be without this little puppy while cycle touring or hiking. I’ve purchased topographical maps for my entire route. A Canadian company, DMTI, makes the maps. This means I can plan detailed routing. It keeps track of my trip log: distance traveled, distance to destination, average speed, time to destination, elevation and a bunch of other things. I can also search for accommodation, nearby attractions, even moon phases and even when the best fishing is. Its also waterproof. It’s an amazing unit. The PC software is crap but that’s for another post.

One unit to rule them all?
You could probably do all of these things on an iPhone, but not as well as the individual units. I pay a price for all the separate units: weight. If you’re trying to reduce weight it’s not a bad option. The one issue might be water proofing. For me, the screen is too small and I couldn’t possibly imagine writing these posts on that tiny screen.

Ok, but why?
This is a once in a lifetime journey. I want to create a lasting record of this trip and blogging helps me to organize and collect my thoughts. Besides that, 6 weeks is a long time to be away and I need to keep in touch and sometimes I need a diversion like episodes of Stargate Universe and Rick Mercer Report. And yes, I am a geek, so that probably has something to do with it.