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Gear and equipment forum

Shoud I take my netbook?

Posted by ocohen on 19/8/2010 at 02:37

Hello, everyone.

I'll be in SEA for 6 weeks starting in October. First time back to Asia in a long time.

In the past I haven't travelled with a comuter -- generally they were too heavy, there were internet cafes everywhere for not much more money than the access fees that guesthouses were charging to use their internet, and I didn't want to have to worry about it.

But now it seems like a lot of guesthouses advertise free wireless. And the netbook is nice and small. And it would be really nice to be able to edit pictures as I go.

What are your thoughts?

#1 ocohen has been a member since 19/8/2010. Posts: 7

Posted by exacto on 19/8/2010 at 03:15

I'd definitely take a netbook on my next trip if I have one by then. It seems that in the last few years, nearly every place is offering free wi-fi access. And not just guesthouses either. Pubs, restaurants, etc.

I enjoy popping into internet cafes from time to time, but the chance to type out emails or do research in the comfort of my room or while enjoying a beer with friends would be a real bonus. Plus, even if your guesthouse does charge an access fee (most won't), it still won't cost much more than an internet cafe. Besides, the more off the tourist path you get, the internet cafes are filled with kids playing extra loud and violent online games anymore anyway.

The down side, of course, is that anytime you take something of value on a trip you spend some time and worry protecting the thing. So, just be sure that you won't be too bothered either having to carry it with you wherever you go and/or leaving it in your room occassionally (or with the lock up at the guesthouse front desk) so that taking care of it doesn't interfere too much with your fun. Cheers.

#2 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,840

Posted by dene_aus on 19/8/2010 at 07:08

id definatley take one, to me the advantages outweigh the disadantages.'

i did a trip a few years ago and was skeptical of a friend who took one, but just being able to log on and send a quick email, do some internet banking or skype back home was great.

If you are worried about losing it and people having access to your personal information and photos, i would suggest taking a lightweight external hard drive and backing up all your photos and other info on to that and leaving it in your main pack, keeping your laptop as "clean" as possible.

#3 dene_aus has been a member since 3/5/2010. Posts: 16

Posted by ocohen on 19/8/2010 at 11:30

Thanks, both of you. It's coming along. Good idea about keeping the hard drive as clean as possible -- i can probably get by with just a thumb drive!

#4 ocohen has been a member since 19/8/2010. Posts: 7

Posted by busylizzy on 20/8/2010 at 12:44

Just as an aside... if you DO need to keep confidential info on your netbook or USB, you can use TrueCrypt. It's free software that allows you to create a 'hidden', encrypted drive.

I had personal documents plus business-related financial stuff that I wanted to take away with me... and by keeping it stored in this 'hidden' drive, I didn't have to worry about anyone getting to it if the netbook went walkabout.

More info here; http://www.truecrypt.org/

The home page contains some unintelligible geek-speak, but it's actually not the difficult to use. Once you've installed it and setup your drive, you just have to 'connect' to the hidden drive using a password.

In answer to your original question - I was glad I had my netbook with me. I used it for:
- emailing and internet
- writing a blog then updating it when I was online.
- storing photos
- playing the odd movie when I got REALLY bored somewhere
- keeping on top of business accounts while I was away

I also had an iPod with me, and used that as a backup for photos and important docs - and to listen to music/language podcasts.

Having WiFi so readily available in many places made keeping in touch a breeze, and I could do it at times that suited me.

#5 busylizzy has been a member since 31/12/2007. Location: New Zealand. Posts: 2,152

Posted by SBE on 20/8/2010 at 14:36

I'm just in AWE at all your technical knowledge busylizzy! Unlike you my brain just can't absorb computer geekspeak... it's full of words that don't mean what the dictionary says.

For example, when my computer says it has a "fatal" error it's totally over-reacting and isn't actually on death's door at all. What it really means is "I'm experiencing a bit of minor indigestion here. Cure: switch me off and turn me back on again please."

However I do take a netbook with me ... it doesn't weigh much more than a Lonely Planet guide and is much more useful. Last year a kind young man I met put some movies on it for me in MP4 (I think?) format ... they were great for killing time on very long bus rides and two day Indonesian ferry journeys etc. and it saved me having to carry an external DVD drive.

I wouldn't mind getting some more movies onto my netbook for my next trip but I haven't the faintest clue what you have to do to covert the DVD into a smaller file for the netbook. Is this something a (very) IT challenged person could do? Also last year you linked a very good Indonesian language course... can I put those on my netbook too or do I have to be online to listen to the lessons?

#6 SBE has been a member since 14/4/2008. Location: Global Village. Posts: 2,055

Posted by Archmichael on 20/8/2010 at 21:26

There's another, long thread somewhere here on TF regarding this subject. Much back and forth there regarding convenience vs. leaving the tech gear at home so as to truly enjoy the travel experience vs. having to keep one more piece of electronics secure, etc.

Personally, I have an 8" netbook, which I use for viewing and storing photographs, and keeping information I'll want on the road (rather than or in addition to in paper form). Also, because I have my own business, it's useful for checking in on that.

Some folks seem to feel that just by having a netbook/notebook, you will get sucked into spending hours glued to the wee screen, as local life passes you by. I guess that happens to some people. That's why we have "off" buttons, though.

#7 Archmichael has been a member since 23/7/2008. Location: Global Village. Posts: 395

Posted by busylizzy on 22/8/2010 at 05:05

"I'm just in AWE at all your technical knowledge busylizzy"

Don't be!! Mostly, I'm really just an impostor that happens to have lots of geeky friends who sort me out, technologically-speaking. As soon as my laptop starts whinging about something, I'm the first to thrust it into their hands in disgust and say 'Stupid computer isn't working again'!

Now, at the risk of sounding like I might know what I'm talking about, there is lots of software around to convert standard DVD's into MP4 and AVI format. Just google 'DVD converter' or 'DVD Ripper'.

This link will give you some options, including reviews: http://download.cnet.com/windows/rippers-and-converting-software/?tag=bc
I'd probably suggest the first one (Easy DVD Rip). I don't do it very often so I tend to just download a free trial version. If you do this, just make sure the trial version is one that converts the entire movie, and not the first 10 mins of the movie. Also be aware that some might place a watermark on the movie.

Once you convert them to MP4 or AVI format, just copy them onto your netbook and you're away!

Sometimes you might have a format problem related to codecs and your standard media players may not be able to play them. I don't really understand this... I just downloaded a nice little multi-format plaer called VLC and it works perfectly. I've been using this for years.
VLC: http://www.videolan.org/vlc/

In terms of the Indo language lessons, you can download these as MP3's onto your hard drive from here: http://www.learningindonesian.com/download-all-free-audio-lessons/download/. I used iTunes to download them, then just copied the MP3's to my netbook. You can find the MP3's in your Music folder (...\My Music\iTunes\iTunes Music\Podcasts).

Hope this is helpful!

#8 busylizzy has been a member since 31/12/2007. Location: New Zealand. Posts: 2,152

Posted by MADMAC on 23/8/2010 at 21:32

I reflect Exacto's position here, but with a different conclusion. I wouldn't want to take it, because I would want to worry about securing it all the time.

#9 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by ocohen on 23/8/2010 at 22:34

This has been so valuable to me! Thank you everyone.

I think I'm taking it, but will keep the hard drive pretty clean, and will keep pictures etc on a thumb drive, so if it gets stolen, it's just the computer that gets stolen. It'd be a drag, but no where near the end of the world.

Thank you.

#10 ocohen has been a member since 19/8/2010. Posts: 7

Posted by SBE on 26/8/2010 at 22:40

Thanks lizzy. This is one of those occasions where I need a subtle enigmatic smiley to express my emotions. There are a few words in your explanation that mean absolutely nothing to me but I'll give it a go. Worst that can happen is my computer telling me it's about to keel over and die again I expect. Thanks again!

#11 SBE has been a member since 14/4/2008. Location: Global Village. Posts: 2,055

Posted by MADMAC on 7/9/2010 at 20:24

I guess I should mention one other point - my son, who's 23, will not travel anywhere without his cell phone and his computer. He just won't do it. When we go to my wife's village, which has no cell phone service or internet access, he HATES it. He has become psychologically dependent on being connected to the outside world. For me, one of the joys of hoping on my chopper and going to points unknown is to forget about the rest of the world for a while. Just a thought.

#12 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by mattocmd on 7/9/2010 at 20:30

I've never taken my computer to SE Asia with me (and I have been there many times).

However, I am definately taking it on my next trip.

As you said, now everywhere offers free wifi (something that wasn't really the case only 2-3 years ago).

Many of the computers in SE Asian internet cafes are old and junky. Not to mention you can save a bucks not having to pay to use them.

#13 mattocmd has been a member since 13/6/2007. Location: United States. Posts: 368

Posted by AlainaRae on 8/11/2010 at 00:10

Hey SBE - not sure if you already figured this out or not but I love a program called Handbrake (http://handbrake.fr/downloads.php) ...it basically super-shrinks any movie from a DVD to your PC and keeps good quality without taking the memory of burning a whole movie. I put a bunch on my ipod so I always have a movie to pass the time without lugging out a laptop and running down the battery.

For my next trip I am taking a droid phone (mine is an Evo - or you could use an iphone/iphone touch to basically do the same things) that has an SD port (to hold the memory card from my camera) so I can geo-tag (GPS location) pics and upload to my online photo storage from my phone then edit from any computer. The droid also has apps for maps, PDF guide readers, GPS, internet, email, online blog (OnTheRoad.com), plays movies and music, Skype, etc. and it fits in my pocket or in my passport stash. I also keep some portable apps on a flash drive for when I am on a public computer so I can do all the things I'd do on my personal computer (http://portableapps.com) such as skype, firefox, etc.

Just some other options to throw out~ Have a great trip!

#14 AlainaRae has been a member since 1/11/2010. Location: United States. Posts: 4

Posted by danceswithrose on 28/12/2010 at 16:19

It depends if you want to spend all your time on the computer or experience a real holiday.
There are internet cafes everywhere (even a small island where I stayed had 3 internet cafes). They're as cheap as chips too. I have been to guesthouses where there seem to be so many more people sitting on laptops at the restaurants. Why don't they bring their four walls, secretary, office manager with them as well???? A computer will inhibit wonderful experiences and meeting different people of different nationalities. I noticed at the last guesthouse where I was at that all the people who used computers only talked about computers and what they could do and what they couldn't do. If this is what you want for your holiday, by all means take your computer. I hope you think twice about this.

#15 danceswithrose has been a member since 12/10/2010. Posts: 20

Posted by ocohen on 29/12/2010 at 00:32

So here's some follow-up:
I had a wonderful trip. Ready to go back.

Brought my netbook with me and rarely used it during the day. Instead, I found that at night in my room, I could look at the pictures I'd taken, sometimes do email (if there was wifi), and sometimes journal or prepare an email on what we'd been up to. Then, when I got to someplace with wifi, I could send it off without having to sit there and write. So for me, it actually increased the time I could spend enjoying where I was.

I really appreciate the feedback you all gave me. Thanks!

#16 ocohen has been a member since 19/8/2010. Posts: 7

Posted by MADMAC on 29/12/2010 at 00:49

"Instead, I found that at night in my room, I could look at the pictures I'd taken, sometimes do email (if there was wifi), and sometimes journal or prepare an email on what we'd been up to."

I'm glad it worked out for you, but I am a little curious - you were spending nights in your hotel room? Nights is usually when I go out. I'm never in my hotel room at night until I'm ready to sleep.

#17 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by ocohen on 29/12/2010 at 01:02

We were in pretty early-to-bed early-to-rise places, and we're not much into the drinking and partying scene, anyway. We tend to be up and out all day, walking, hiking, talking to people, seing the sights and generally being there. So yes, we're generally in the hotel by ten. (Of course, we adjust that when we're in a location where there's stuff going on late at night...).

#18 ocohen has been a member since 19/8/2010. Posts: 7

Posted by MADMAC on 29/12/2010 at 11:40

I'm a night guy for sure. I don't go places where there's no nightlife at all. Just a different outlook. I don't drink much anymore - my body wasn't enjoying that. But I still like to go out. I just like the night more than the day.

#19 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

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