The Adventures of Airstream Mikie

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Road Warrior Technology

It's an interesting challenge to live in a small space but technology has made it very easy and productive. Here's a list of gadgets which improve life on the road by an order of magnitude over what was available just a few years ago:

1. iPhone 3GS - perfect tool for on-the-road. Communicates hands-free via Bluetooth when I'm in the tow vehicle, and switches to a different channel when I'm in the trailer. And when I'm on the bike, it's a GPS recorder to track hikes, trails, etc. I also use the phone's video camera a lot, and the app called Carpenter (one of the tools is a level, useful when the trailer is parked on uneven ground, requiring jacking).

2. Kindle 2. Holds 1,500 of my favorite books, newspapers, magazines, etc, all in a form-factor of one page of a book. Battery operated and light as a feather, and easy to operate, and reads easy in broad daylight or with very little light. A perfect "reader". I'm currently involved in reading the collected works of Mark Twain, one of my favorite authors. With all the magic of the Kindle 2, I still keep a couple of "old school" books around just for the look and feel, the heft and smell of the printed page and a good leather binding. A couple of my favorites are "Song of the Sky" by Murchie; "Stick and Rudder", and a couple of other flying stories to remind me of my years of adventures flying the USA and Europe in an open-cockpit biplane.

3. iPod touch - for music library independent of the phone and computer, and a backup for most of the Apps on the iPhone..

4. MacBook Pro - Wi-Fi connection for all internet needs. Built-in webcam for video conferencing. If the campsite doesn't have internet connection, I can take the Mac to where the signal is, usually a Starbucks or library, or some other public place. The iPhone is a backup for the Mac with no wi-fi, as long as 3G or Edge is available. I use the Mac extensively for writing and video editing and photos and movies, e-mail, shopping, and so much more. The MacBook Pro that I use has the no-moving-parts all solid state storage (no hard disk) so it's quiet and reliable and fast. It has the 17" display for a reasonable computing experience, made even easier with wireless mouse and keyboard.

5. HiDef TV - The Airstream comes standard with a flat-screen display and is wired to over the air digital TV, via rooftop receiver. It has a built-in DVD player, but so does the Mac.

6. GPS Navigation system - dashboard mounted, yet removable for hiking and trip planning. Not just for navigating where you want to go, but where you might want to go... it has a database of over 5 Million points of interest, stores, gas stations, repair stations, etc.

7. Backup video camera - to see where you are going in reverse, to make it easier to align truck and trailer for hookup.

8. Inclinometer - dashboard mounted indicator shows the attitude of the truck, used off-road in rock climbing situations. Other off-road gadgets include Compass, Four Wheel Drive, locking differential.

9. Alloy materials - light aluminum alloys keep weight down on the bike, so it can be taken more places. Aluminum construction of the trailer keeps weight low so gas consumption is reduced (but of course, mileage is poor when towing, and only slightly better when not towing).

10. HiDef video camera, vibration-reduction binoculars, wind speed and other weather instruments. These goodies take up surprisingly little space, and even less with each new product release. Soon all of the chargers for most devices will be eliminated in favor on one Universal Cordless Charger.

11. Air-conditioning - the Airstream has air-conditioning (and heat) for ultimate comfort regardless of what the weather brings (and it's constantly changing along the coastline).

12. Refrigeration - it's not big, but it keeps essentials cool. Murphy's Stout, some white wine, cream for the coffee, and some frozen foods can stretch camp time into several days, even a week, before re-supply missions. Well, I guess I'd want to take on water before a week went by, for showering off that overly ripe aroma.

I love seeing the evolution of all the tech gadgets, and I'm definitely an "early adopter".

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