Saturday, 24 May 2014

Effects of travel on IT or What the hell do I take when I go overseas?

Recently I was on a trip to Jakarta, for pipe band of all things, however while there I still needed to keep up with my normal information load. My gear load out for work, or for holidays in Australia typically consists of two mobile phones (one work / one private), Google Nexus 7 (WiFi) and my 11" MacBook Air or 15" MacBook Pro. Taking all of this junk to Indonesia was unfeasible - although altogether the weight was under 3KG. I knew I would have my normal number of emails, still want to check my Feedly, Facebook, take photos etc. Keeping everything charged and good to go is a usual challenge, and I imagined it would be worse in Jakarta.

Heading over, I took my HTC One X, Nexus and that was it. It was a gamble because I didn't want to unplug too much, but still needed to have access to a wide variety of data. I wondered at what other people travelling took and it seemed very much that this was fairly typical - tablet + mobile phone. Very few people seemed to have included a laptop of any type. I generally find that typing on a tablet, even one with a bluetooth keyboard, is difficult to do over a long period of time, especially with any degree of accuracy so I thought this was pretty interesting. Also given the data storage limitations of tablets/phones I thought it was interesting given the amount of photos and videos everyone was taking. More than one person remarked to me that they had filled their storage and needed to delete some stuff.

Neither of the devices I took have upgradeable storage, so I had to manage it fairly carefully and took less shots than I might normally have.

Something I found to be very nice was lots and lots of free WiFi everywhere. Hotels, airports, cafes, coffeeshops, etc all had free internet and it was beautiful. As a country lad where we're lucky to get 3G coverage - let alone 4G - it was very exciting. It was nice to see such strong cell coverage everywhere too. I noted that mobile towers were spotted across the landscape. It was even better for me with the photo backups to Dropbox my HTC performs whenever it's on a WiFi connection. This is a cool feature and HTC give you a space upgrade to your Dropbox when you connect. Very nice indeed.

In reflection, I should have taken my MacBook Air at least. There were a number of times I needed to SSH to a server for changes, and using the tablet/phone was awful - slow and cumbersome. Also, I wanted to write up a travel journal, but I found that using the tablet/phone to type was interrupting to my flow - I tend to write, refine and spellcheck as I type, so getting the whole tiny little keyboard, searching for the key etc thing was very hard to get around. Constantly refining my expression was very hard. I asked about and the chaps I travelled with found no difficulty - rarely did they send big messages, and those that did were adept at using tablets to do so. It should be noted they have much smaller hands than I do! USB power adaptors were very useful, although the power in Indonesia can be a bit sketchy at times.

Good luck if you're travelling and be safe.

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