Travel Tips

Web site Logistics and Process
Process and gear are interlocked: The process you use determines what equipment you should bring. The process and the gear for AroundTheWorld1999 evolved together as a result of experimentation and a lot of evenings spent thinking and rocking on the front porch.

If our web site was to host travelogues written daily by our team we would need an easy way to send these reports home and put them on the site. The emphasis is on the word easy. We looked at a lot of travelogue writing and wanted to do more than text updates so Nick made a few calls and arranged a satellite telephone terminal that could be used to "phone in" an audio update, no matter where we were in the world. And he quickly came up with a process to ensure our calls would be heard on the Internet.

"Leave a voicemail!" he said. This was our main approach to deliver content to an internet audience. MVS/USA sponsored us by loaning an InmarSat Mini-M Satellite Terminal that we used for e-mail, fax, and voice calls. Calls from anywhere in the world to our voicemail box cost only $1.90 per minute; and the sound quality was remarkable. Each day we traveled we used the Sat-phone to call a voicemail box located in Santa Clara, California. Our team took turns delivering daily reports, packed with information, facts, and amusing stories. Our lead DST member, Richard Smith happened to be the Telecom Administrator at work so we used his voicemail system. He was able to increase the mailbox size so it could hold multiple messages. He also had to increase the message time-out to fifteen minutes allowing us to leave longer reports without having to piece them together. Keep it simple or it wonıt happen. That was our motto.

Richard checked his voicemail box daily for new messages. When one arrived he would use a cheap Radio Shack telephone recorder, hooked to his computerıs sound card, to record each message. Then he saved the message in the now popular .MP3 sound format. The tremendous audio compression offered by the .MP3 standard reduces a ten minute message to about 900K. The final step was to transfer (FTP) the .MP3 file and create the necessary HTML code to make it available. This wasnıt simple at first but eventually it became simple. Finally, Richard would notify the remaining DST volunteers and one of them would transcribe the audio to make a text version available. This was time consuming and naturally resulted in misspelling of places and names so our team began typing the journal reports ourselves and sending them via e-mail.

The Domestic Support Team
Producing an interesting travelog takes a lot of effort. Not only do you have to travel and enjoy yourself (thatıs the easy part), but you have to write, edit and publish a web site as well. How can one person be a web site publisher, a system administrator, content provider, photographer, editor, illustrator and traveler at the same time? The solution is to setup all these aspects in advance and enlist volunteers so the traveler can do what he or she does bestŠ Travel! We enlisted the support of friends and built the AroundTheWorld1999 Domestic Support Team (DST). This is a group of talented professionals who volunteered their time to work on the web site But dedicated volunteers have limited patience. So after the web site infrastructure was set up and tested, we worked on building a convenient method that allows the traveler to interact with DST members to perform site update. Remember, these are volunteers so their role had to be well defined or things wouldnıt happen. To make them successful we thought through all of the details their jobs entailed and thoroughly explained their role. Having a support team is beneficial several other reasons as well. The more people you have following you, the better off and safer you are. Maybe you will need help crossing a boarder. Maybe something will go wrong with the vehicles or someone will fall ill. Itıs nice to have a safety net of support in place. Communications abroad can be difficult and sometimes even impossible so a support team can inform family and friends of progress. An occasional status call to a DST member and word will spread quickly of our status.

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