Nelz's Blog

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Leavin' on a Jet Plane...

I am taking a vacation. w00t!

Normally at this time of year, I would be in full-on packing mode for Burning Man. Alas, my best friend from college decided to get married on the day the Man burns (in the U.K.). Then, to top it all off, my brother decided to get married on the 18th of September in Boston. This left me with little to no obligations from the 7th to the 17th of September, so I decided that I was going to rent a motorcycle and tour around the south of France.

What does a techie do when they plan a trip? They buy tech gadgets of course!

My first purchase was a netbook. I got an Asus EeePC 901 (Linux). I opted for the white model, because there was a $300 (100%) ‘black tax’. I opted to get some scull vinyl stickers ($13) instead. I dumped the default Xandros OS and installed Ubuntu.

My original thought was that I didn’t want to be tempted to work on work or side projects while I was traipsing around Europe, so I got a solid netbook that could provide me with email/Twitter/basic web surfing, but would lend itself to opening up an IDE. After a while, I realized that I should reserve my vacation for things I want to do, even if it includes working on a software project. So, I’ve decided to forget the netbook and take my home laptop, a 15” MacBook. (If you are reading this and want the netbook I described above, I have one for a decent price if you’d like it.)

The second bit of tech that I purchased was a Kindle (2nd gen, non-DX). I do enjoy ‘personal’ reading, but rarely take the personal time for it (except on vacations) because I’m usually caught up in some technical book. My usage of it has waxed and waned since my purchase, but it definitely addresses my criteria of reducing the amount of ‘stuff’ that I am carrying whilst on-motorcycle in France. I do plan to put some entertaining books on my Kindle before I leave. (“Necronomicon” anyone?)

So, I’m down to my Kindle and my MacBook. What about my G1 mobile phone? Well, the surprising thing is that I’ll probably just stick to my current provider (T-Mobile). I was aghast when I heard their prices (something like: $0.99/min of phone usage, $0.35 per sent text message, free received text message, $0.35 ‘connection charge’ [for every time the phone checks for messages?], $15.00 per Megabyte of data), but in my subsequent research that’s about par for the course for prepaid SIM cards. I don’t like it, and I’m dubious that this is as good as it gets, but I don’t have the time or the inclination to fight it too hard. I just have to accept that my Twitter addiction may cost me some. One of the positives though, is that when I told T-Mobile that I was considering using GSM cards purchased abroad they offered to help me unlock my phone. That should be a boon for me when I decide to replace it in the future and want to sell it.

I’m not planning on taking a camera, other than my G1 and my laptop. I am kind of hoping to take some videos using my MacBook’s built-in camera, but we’ll see if that even happens, because for most of my life I’ve been a forgetful and shitty photodocumentarian, and I don’t see that magically changing for this trip.

During my ‘where the wind blows’ tour of France, I’ll probably use CouchSurfing.org to meet people, or possibly even find shelter if I can plan that far in advance, but I’m purposly keeping my schedule unplanned so I don’t know if I’ll want to subject CouchSurfing hosts to my slapdash planning. The housing may just end up being, in order of preference: couches, hostels, B&B’s, or hotels. Like I said, I going very unplanned. I think I should be okay, because the annual French holiday season is mostly done by the beginning of September. If not, it’ll be an exercise in creativity, right?

I’ve got 3 projects to work on while travelling. Firstly, I have visions of a Simple-Spring-Memcached v2, and I’ve already made a bit of progress starting that. Next, there is my as-yet-unannounced Ruby-on-Rails, Twitter based web service. And thirdly, I’ve decided that I want to do a presentation at Silicon Valley Code Camp in October about Simple-Spring-Memcached, and I can work on that presentation for a bit if I’m bored.

So, that’s my story. If I do get around to photodocumenting (or videodocumenting) any of my trip, I’ll be sure to post a link here.