Sunday, February 9, 2014

The computer and other gadgets - Seven Kilo Challenge Part Three

This trip will be my first ever backpacking trip in which I take along a laptop. A few years ago I wouldn't have even contemplated lugging around such a heavy and valuable piece of equipment, but times have changed. Not only have laptops become lighter and cheaper, but Wi-Fi is everywhere. This equates to easier internet access than having to compete for a computer at an internet cafe. My smartphone with an Indonesian SIM and data package will work as a mobile modem and give me internet access almost anywhere, at least in the bigger towns and hopefully in smaller ones as well.

I've also streamlined my photography workflow.  I import photos from my camera into Lightroom, sort and edit them, then create a folder for publishing on my chosen photo website. This can all be done on my computer anywhere, and only when I wish to use the Lightroom plugin to upload the pictures onto my Picasa photo site do I need to access the internet. Indonesia has very cheap data rates between midnight and 8am so those photos can be happily uploading whilst I'm sleeping.

Coming travelling with me is my Macbook Air, now more a middle-aged boyfriend than a sexy new love affair. These days he's got a double chin, namely a couple of external hard drives.

One of the downsides to the MBA is a miserly 2 USB slots. With one slot taken up with a CF card reader there's only one other slot available for a hard drive. I have a 256GB SSD and it's almost full, so all my photos are stored on an external drive, plus I need a second drive for backup. Enter this little dude, soon on its way to me from Korea via Japan - the smallest most compact USB hub I could find. Problem solved.

I bought a beautiful laptop bag a couple of years ago which is made from some high tech foam and protects my computer from serious trauma. But it's a little heavy and too bulky which prevents me from slipping it into the sleeve in my backpack. So I made up a handy little bag from a postpak bubble envelope and some velcro fastenings. Works a treat!

MBA 1360g in home made postpak case, hard drives 424g in their case, including cables.

AC chargers are a nightmare. Reducing the number of transformers and power cables required can save a huge amount of weight. My MBA charger has a little plug which slides in to the transformer. This plug also fits my new camera battery charger. My external drives are USB powered, as is my phone and Kindle. I can therefore use USB cables, much lighter than power cords, to charge all my devices from my laptop. Damn pity there seems to be a different plug for each different device. MBA charger 201g,  Kindle 351g, iPhone 181g, plug adaptor for Indonesia 38g. These all include their respective USB cables.

To cut down on bulk I recently heard about the Griffin USB mini cable kit. These little beauties are very short, so no tangled cables. Plus they sync data, which many cheaper cables don't do. I've found a supplier in Perth so will be purchasing a set when I go down to the big smoke in a couple of weeks.

I could probably pick up a USB wall charger in a store in Indonesia at little cost should I need it.

All this paraphernalia adds up to 2623g. I haven't included the weights of the USB hub or Griffin cables as yet. Add that to the 3kg already accounted for,  throw in the tripod and 50mm camera lens (1189g) and we are at 6812g. We've almost hit the weight limit, and I'm yet to pack my clothes and toiletries.

No, I'm not going nude trekking, or living in one set of clothes for 2 months. I'm taking a couple of changes of clothes, and some cold weather gear - the trek to Semeru is said to be the coldest place in Java with overnight temperatures well below freezing. And it's all got to fit in carryon.

That's where the trickery comes in. You'll have to read the next post for that!

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