Goodbye London

As much as I’m longing for home, I am always sad when I leave this town.
10 visits later, it feels like a second home to me, having spent some formative years here a long time ago. London is a place that truly one can never tire of. It’s so different to when I first arrived here over 50 years ago and yet, it’s still (comfortingly) the same, for the old and the new exist easily side by side. The new in the faces and voices, the architecture – the old in the much the same.

I’ll be back … I hope.
from Tumblr

Travels Far and Wide – a blog

I set up a travel-dedicated Tumblr account a few years ago. I called it Travels Far and Wide. Click on the hotlink to check it out.

It’s a nice layout that showcases some of the best of my travel photographs along with very brief comments. Tumblr’s focus on images makes it a good platform for my needs.

More in-depth blog posts will also appear here in my website. They’ll be tagged #dramagirltravels


Image: KFoy

Once more unto the road, dear friends …

Holiday time coming up … overseas again for the first time since last January. This time it’s off to the US and Canada with daughter in tow for the first two weeks. Sadly, she has to return to wage-slave duties while I continue solo on my merry road trip.

It’s time again to consider making lists, packing, and, as it is these days, the tech stuff I’m taking with me and why. Herewith the latest update in the e-traveller series.

My daughter came up with the idea of a co-op blog; she would write from her perspective and me from mine. Good idea, and especially good if we can do it via our iPhones – we both have one. Posterous was the platform we’ve decided on because you can post everything via email from your phone – no laptops needed with this smart little application. We set up a shared Posterous account, sorted themes etc., and Hello NYC! is the outcome. You might like to drop by when we really kick things off there on 6 September.

What we like about Posterous is the ease with which we can send through items to HelloNYC!, our hub. These files may include stills, videos or sound files, and it’s all done all via email. The added bonus, however,  is the way you can set up Posterous to shoot through blog content to various other places – this blog for me, as well as to social networks like Twitter and Facebook, Vimeo and Flickr. You can post to all the places you nominate in settings i.e., one post to serve them all OR you can just send to your Facebook, or this blog, or Twitter etc. Not all of our friends read blogs, although we hope they’ll drop by HelloNYC! which will remain as a shared travel diary for the mother-daughter trip and will contain all the content we’ve sent up during our two weeks in the city from 6-20 September.

When I move on from New York, I’ll continue to use Posterous, but will log out of HelloNYC! and use my other Posterous site which, in turn, links out to this blog and to other social networks. This will leave HelloNYC! as a dedicated site for the two weeks we’ll spend there.

When it comes to posting images, you can’t go beyond PicPosterous (free from the iTunes Store). This is going to make creating and populating various ‘albums’ of images really, really easy. And speaking of the iPhone, I have a 3GS which means I now have video capability right there, so there’s now no need to take another device (like my iPod Nano) to shoot videos. I’m going to take my lightweight DSLR Nikon D40 to capture my ‘good’ images … the lens is much better than that on the iPhone. When travelling, I use my favourite walkaround, workhorse lens a Nikkor 55-200 1:4.5-6G.  Selected images will end up on public stream in my Flickr account, as well as in other restricted or private steams – not all of your images may be suitable for public exposure – just saying!

So, a few years down the track, it looks as though the only device the e-traveller needs these days is a smart phone – iPhone for me – the recharge cable and, most importantly, an economical data plan. You don’t want to use your at-home carrier’s roaming plan with it’s huge charges now, do you? *shudder*  Can I recommend MrSimCard for all your travel sim card needs. They have a range of options available, are inexpensive, and the customer support is first rate.

The e-traveller hits the road again: lighter than ever

Image by Getty Images via Daylife

And so it’s off to Sydney for the weekend for some theatre and catchups with friends.  Cate Blanchett is playing Blanche in Sydney Theatre Company‘s production of Tennessee WilliamsA Streetcar Named Desire. I hear she’s not too bad at all!

To stay in touch I’m equipped with a mere iPhone 3G and iPod Nano this time round.  If I had a 3GS I wouldn’t need the Nano, which is going principally to capture video shots.  They both fit easily into my handbag with all the other stuff a girl has to have on the go.  I’m quite looking forward to having to rethink how I post to my various outlier services, and to my blog.  Maybe Posterous will get the lion’s share of the work.  We’ll see, and I’ll be reporting as always.

The image above?  Well of course the trusty notebook goes too … ‘analog’ never fails when other shiny toys do!

Now … no more duststorms please to spoil the view.

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Have iPhone, will travel: the e-traveller another year on

I must say I’m missing my northern-summer travels this year. Perhaps it’s the cold westerly wind blowing outside as I sit here writing, while my thoughts turn to long, hot July days in the Mediterranean.  This picture is where I was one year ago – Knidos in Turkey.  For a few years now I have travelled with a couple of e-tools: a Nokia N95 and my trusty G4 Powerbook.  I used various online services to keep in touch with family and friends and to journal the experience. These included Flickr for the images that you have to capture on holidays, Twitter for quick, spontaneous comment on places and people, and of course the more reflective and longer posts which were sent directly to this blog.  Last year I tried something different.

Rather than keep my media enclosed within their respective sites, I embedded a Friend Feed widget within the posting pane here on Groundling.  As I uploaded images, posts, and tweets the ‘post’ stream kept updating. I called it ‘the blog that writes itself.’  It has a ring to it, you must admit!  This worked pretty well for most of the time, wireless hotspot dropouts and telco charges notwithstanding.  Would I change the way I journal my next holiday trip – at this stage planned for the northern spring of 2010? Well yes, of course, and why not?  The technology has moved on, and it’s a heck of a lot easier now to stay in touch.

Last week’s Macbreak Weekly (I’ve listened for years) included a panel discussion on how travellers can stay in touch using online services and a 3G enabled phone, in this case, an iPhone 3G or 3GS.  It seems the time has finally come when you can leave the laptop at home.  Leo Laporte and a couple of the panel, including Don McAllister and Andy Inhatko were about to head off to China for a week or so. They were sharing tips on how social media might simplify things.  There’s choice of course, from an RSS feed in a blog (similar to my idea from last year) through direct uploads to various social networks, and then through to aggregation on a Friend Feed stream. Don McAllister is using the ‘RSS in a blog’ model, while Leo Laporte is using his iPhone to upload material to various social networks via Posterous – as email attachments. These then get ported on to his Friend Feed stream.  Don’s approach is more focussed than Leo’s, and I wish I’d taken his advice about creating a separate and dedicated travel blog for the RSS feed. In that way I could have kept my travel posts more accessible as well as separate from Groundling’s other posts.  As it was, the embedded feed kept uploading after my return, and eventually I had to cut it off.  You live and learn as they say.

One tool that wasn’t available to me last year was the marvellous Audioboo for the iPhone. I’ve written about Audioboo before.  I’ve particularly enjoyed hearing Leo use this application from China. It’s really ideal to capture the sounds of a particular environment. I would certainly use Audioboo on my next trip – it comes complete with an image attachment and Google map location capability. Capturing a soundscape of the environment as well as providing an opportunity to interview people you meet, and to narrate responses to places and events is something I find really compelling. Audioboo’s tiny, simple to use, and the audio quality is first rate. It’s definitely on my packing list for next time.

As a footnote, apparently the Great Firewall of China is up this week, and Twitter is unavailable for use – my, what a powerful tool this is!  However, with a 3G-enabled phone, travellers like Leo are able to sidestep this ban by emailing their media as attachments to Posterous.  Seems there’s a workaround for pretty much everything these days.

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A mini challenge: the smart e-traveller

I took this photo of my :en:iPhone and its SIM slot.

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve written before about the various challenges I’ve set myself when travelling either to conferences or overseas: what to pack, how to minimise the clutter, how to stay in touch effectively and economically (time and $). One other challenge that remains for me is to get everything into one carry-on bag. I’m not quite ready for that yet, though One Bag has the goods on it.

I’m getting ready for 5 weeks in Europe … yes someone has to do it I know … but I need your help to be the smartest e-traveller I can. One year on from my last post on the subject, I’ve reissued the challenge to myself; how do you survive an extended period away from home, and in international locations, and without packing a laptop or relying on cyber cafés. Once again One Bag has a good resource with tips for the traveller on getting internet access. So, can it be done inexpensively? I don’t wish to have both arms and legs ripped off in charges by my phone carrier back home. This time, the tool of choice is the iPhone.

Here’s the mission should you choose to accept it.

Using only an iPhone how could an intrepid e-adventurer stay in touch? The traveller wants to post images, provide updates on what’s what, and perhaps the occasional blog post … maybe ‘lite’ blogging on Tumblr? In addition to Tumblr, the traveller in question has a few other social networking sites: Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, and FriendFeed.

Over to you. All your advice and thoughts will be gratefully received, collated, and put together with acknowledgement in another post. I’ll follow up with the occasional traveller’s note from the road if I can, and/or a full report on my findings at the end.