Travel Tips

Writing and Editing Travelogues
At the end of the day I take a few minutes to write out what happened of significance. I do not chronicle every meal I ate, every site I saw. I write what I think would interest others, what gives the flavor of the place and the style of travel. I try to write for the reader. I pound this out in Microsoft Word. Once I have a framework in Word, I save it as HTML and start to add pictures that complement the text. With the pictures comes more ideas. I continue to flesh out the text as I do page layout. Sometimes I put it away until morning to get a fresh perspective.

 

Connecting To The Internet While On The Road

Most 4 star hotels have a business office. We used CompuServe (now AOL) GlobalNet. At $6.00 an hour premium for access outside the US it is pricey, but it works. We also tried, IBM.net. They had a global network and accessing the 'Net was about the same price as in the US. That was great. (ed. note: recently IBM.net has recently changed that policy, the have a per-minute surcharge for roaming outside of the region that you subscribed in; for the US it's $4.80 to $9.00 an hour- -check out their web site for details.) The problem is most global access providers have access points only in a few major cities in each country--which means you have to wait until you pass through a major city for a major upload, or incur lots of long-distance in-country charges. Both suck.

Just accessing the 'Net was a major problem in the beginning. Old phone systems, hard-wired phones (no phone jacks) and Internet access only in the largest cites limited my ability to access e-mail and post updates.

Tapping in to phone lines was sometimes easy--other times a chore. Most places had standard US jacks. Some places had odd jacks. If you are traveling, you can buy adapter kits from different companies that will adapt the standard RJ-11 plug to other international formats. Companies like Teleadapt sell kits. They seem outrageously priced for what you get, but it works. The Teleadapt kit also came with a line tester which came in handy--it lets you know if the line is good, reversed or digital--which can fry older modems. Teleadapt has a handy reference for overcoming problems on the web at: http://www.teleadapt.com/web/Helpdesk/start; also try the web site at http://www.micromo.com/travel.htm for a few more vendor-independent tips.

Occasionally, you might encountered phones that were hard wired--no jacks which require taking the phone apart, tracing the wires and use of a special RJ-11 adapter that had 4 wire leads which you must wrap around the appropriate terminals. Crude, but effective. Teleadapt makes a "complete solution" for dealing with hardwired phones, the Executive Telekit. At US$105 it better be spiffy. You can make a simple device from four alligator clips and a phone jack from your local hardware store for a fraction of the price... If I were to do it all over again, I might spring for the latest acoustic couplers--do you remember the old devices that actually went over the ear and mouthpiece of the phone? Well they still sell them, but they are now slim, lightweight jobs. I almost bought one a couple months ago. But by now I have enough tools and tricks that I can tap in anywhere so I decided to save the US$150 and skip it.

Another option is to use Internet Cafes. They are springing up all over the place, wherever there are travelers. If you have an Ethernet 10BaseT adapter and can find a cafe that has a network which has a DHCP server you are Golden--I won't go into configuring your computer to use DHCP, but it's pretty easy--ask a geek at the cafe then just tap in to the network. Sometimes you can talk the Internet cafe staff into letting you log in on their local account via their phone line--but that usually takes a lot of persuasion. The staff rarely have any authority to bend the rules. The best time is to stop by late at nigh after the boos leaves and they are bored--then they might let you get away with it. Go Full Circle and Close The Loop Bada bing, bada boom. The most important rule that projects and plans started must be finished and finished within a time frame so you can go on to the next event with a clean slate. Pictures and reports must be made available within 24 hours.

Sometimes we succeeded in our deadlines, other times we failed. It is best if reports and digital photos are taken, processed, and uploaded the same day. Journals, writing, editing, layout, and publishing should also occur at regular, frequent, intervals. It is good to delay posting occasionally and switch gears over to another project so you can revisit the material and enhance it further. Still it is very important to go full circle and close the loop. .

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