BootsnAll Travel Network

Getting ready: Computing on the Road (1)

My Palm m125 arrived last week. For those scratching their heads: the Palm m125 is a PDA which was state-of-the-art Anno 2000 with 8 Megs Ram (yeah, that’s right, 8 Megs and a monochrome screen. But it has an SD card slot and, more importantly, it runs on a twin-set of AAA batteries.

What, I hear you whisper, is that all about?

It’s about travel writing!

Consider computing as a backpacker. A laptop machine weighs as much as a tent, has a battery life of a few hours and needs constant re-charging which can be difficult unless you happen to be next to a plug. The batteries in the Palm m125 last for up to 2 months and if you are so inclined, you can write your travel narrative while crossing the Gobi Desert on camelback or staying in a tree-hut in the jungles of Papua New Guinea. —No mains connection required. The system can be backed up on SD cards the size of a stamp and files can be transferred to any PC with a USB card reader once you’re back in town. At least that is the idea. And as if that wasn’t enough, the Palm has a range of foldable keyboards which you can fit in the back-pocket of your jeans. All that weighs in at under 300g and fits snugly into a plastic sandwich box which will also keep it, the cables and all the various accessories nice and dry. And all that for under 50 bucks on Ebay.

And another thing. In theory, the SD card slot allows me to plug in various extentions and there is shareware which allows me to run applications through them as if they are extended RAM. So this machine actually packs a lot more than 8 Megs. In practice, I have little use for toys when travelling because they just distract from the experience, but one thing I carry (which takes a lot of space, weight and I never get enough) are books. The Palm works as an ebook reader. I have eyed up the PalmPak pre-loaded SD ebook library and nearly ordered the SF edition which more-or-less included the collected works of Peter F. Hamilton (i.e. one stamp would see me through the entire trip). I didn’t order it because the postage was too expensive, but that’s the sort of thing you can pick up on the street in Bangkok. And because people like to play with it, someone even wrote the software to convert the Palm into a Game Boy!

However, it isn’t all plain sailing. The PDA sits on my desk as yet untouched. You see, it just won’t work with this version of LINUX and I have to upload the relevant software (keyboard drive etc) via a Windoze machine. I have had a go at John for running this crappy old version of Red Hat and we had a quarrel as a result and (well) I ended up buying a laptop on Ebay, but that is another story…

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