How to handle media upload when traveling far and light?
May 21, 2008 2:09 AM   Subscribe

My little brother will in a few months embark in a year-long trip around Asia (India, Vietnam, Thailand...), towards Australia as final destination. He asks me to set up a blog for him - easy does it, I'm a WordPress translator. But what about media? And in general, what should I not forgot to make sure we get the best from his experience while not making it hard for him to communicate?

See, he'll be traveling light (so no laptop) and potentially deep in unknown territories, where there's little chance he'll cross any Internet cafe, let alone a computer with broadband - I might be wrong, of course, but I'm speaking with the experience of a friend who works at a resort in Laos valley, and he has limited (monthly) bandwidth at his workplace.

So, while it's gonna be easy for him to update said blog with text, media are another matter, and I have a few advices to ask for.
- How should he handle his files? With limited bandwidth, he cannot upload full size image, but he cannot edit them down either to take as few Mb as possible. Likewise, I don't want him to take pictures at minimal resolution just for this reason, since he'll certainly want to get them full size and on paper once he gets back home.
- He'll be carrying more than one X Gb cards for his camera, but those will run out quickly if he cannot dump them from time to time. I know there are dedicated card-dumping portable HDs these days, but I hear they're not reliable. Anyone has experience on this?
- Any tips on a light, good and sturdy camera, with standards cards that he can buy over there by the dozen?
- Videos are bound to be made, but weight way more than pictures. Should he avoid making them?
- More generally, what should I setup for him to ease the message transmission between his faraway land and the whole family back home? - again, with as little bandwidth use on his side as possible. Should I use my own server for hosting, or rely for instance on Flickr and it's (I suppose) many CDNs in the region?

Lastly, what are the cool traveler/around-the-world blog that you know?
posted by XiBe to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I can't answer everything, but in pretty much every major city in Asia, there's some sort of technology mall-type-thing, filled to the brim with all kinds of computer/camera/tech stalls/shops. Multistorey, chromish-looking on the outside.

If he finds one of those (and locals will know, if he describes the concept, where to send him), have him look for the machines which take photos from memory cards and put them onto CDs. Then he can either wait until he gets to a less-limited-bandwidth place to upload, or just send you the CDs via snailmail, which you could upload onto the blog from your faster-bandwidth place.
posted by mdonley at 2:53 AM on May 21, 2008

Also: notetaking (on paper!) will make those long e-mailed missives and blog posts that much easier to compose later, and also, were these notes in a journal, preserve his ideas and observations for posterity.
posted by mdonley at 2:55 AM on May 21, 2008

I can only address one of your questions.

Given the plummeting prices as well as the minimal weight and bulk of memory cards, I'd advocate loading up on them as opposed to one of the portable HD devices. I just bought an 8 gig Class 6 SDHC card last week for $35.00, and I see today they're under $30.00 each. He can get a lot of cards for the price of one of the portable devices.

Remind him to lock them after he fills them. CF cards are priced in the same general neighborhood as SD and SDHC cards.
posted by imjustsaying at 3:18 AM on May 21, 2008

I'm in the process of planning an epic trip out to South East Asia right now, though I plan on traveling with a laptop with me, I'll be blogging as I go along so have given things like this a lot of thought. I've only been Thailand in the past however.

Camera wise, I'm getting the Olympus mju 1030 SW - It's water proof, drop proof and dust proof - I haven't one yet, so can't vouch personally for how usable it is. But it's reviewed well. (People point out it's expensive for a camera in it's shooting range, but you are paying more for the rugged aspect) There is the 850 SW as well which is a step down, but still in the rugged class of kit. (But keep in mind, I have a bit of a rugged kit fetish - even my deck of cards is water proof ;o)

Uploading the data I don't know though, in Thailand it's not an issue at all, but so far that's as far as I've ventured so personally will be working on saving things to a backup device and on the laptop, and uploading when I get a chance. For big amounts of data (Like the RAW images from my SLR) I'll also going to burn things to CD or DVD and post them home (Keeping a second disk with me for safe keeping)

Also, go with lots of memory cards, rather then big ones.
posted by paulfreeman at 4:18 AM on May 21, 2008

Oh, and for travel blogs I subscribe to the following currently:
Brave New Traveler (Very good - One I really look forward to reading)
TravelPUNK (Was someone else's recommendation on an other askmefi question)

And since you ask, I'll shamelessly plug my own travel blog, Voyage Of The Odd Essay though it's still young and finding it's voice, and not updated nearly as much as it will be when I'm actually traveling come the end of the year. Most of the posts until then will deal with kit issues, particularly as I'm heavily researching rugged options. (I do know 95% of the time a zip lock plastic bag will do the trick just as well but that's not nearly as much fun!)
posted by paulfreeman at 4:33 AM on May 21, 2008

He should buy tons of smaller card (1 or 2 gig max) so that if he loses a card (or his camera), he'll only lose a small portion of his photos. Plus, SD cards are now really cheap. But he better buy them here, or he'll end up with overpriced asian copies. There will be plenty of places in major cities to transfer his cards to dvds (I'd make 2 copies, one I keep and another one I send home).

What I've done to send photos in previous trips was to load Picasa on the internet cafe computer, then use that to re-size the photos I wanted to send. He could also carry usb stick with some simple software-or even picasa I guess) to do the re-sizing (though I haven't look into that). I've tried taking a couple of low-res pictures, but it's a tedious process and you run the risk of no switching back and taking a bunch of awesome photos in low-res...

I recommend a small canon powershot camera such as the A720IS. I originally had the S3IS but I found it too bulky to keep with me all day long. Also, he should find a camera that runs on AA battery. If his rechargeable batteries fail, he'll be able to pick standard AAs anywhere.
posted by ddaavviidd at 5:18 AM on May 21, 2008

Bandwidth isn't really a problem in Thailand, Laos or Hong Kong. I can't vouch for other countries. I do know that you can send posts to Wordpress by email, which is handy for those times when a connection is tight.
posted by furtive at 6:33 AM on May 21, 2008

At least for pictures, maybe he could carry a USB drive with the PortableApps version of The GIMP image manipulating software, for those rare occasions when he happens across a internet cafe. It will run off the USB drive on the host PC so he could smallerize full size pictures as needed.
posted by Sugar Induced Coma at 10:40 AM on May 21, 2008

I think most of your questions have been covered. But I can add that I recently asked my travel blog readers if they like seeing videos and the majority opinion was they liked videos better than photos. This was a little depressing to me, since I think I take pretty nice photos while my videos are just there to capture a moment of chaos, music or capture a mood in a way that a still picture might not. So your brother's readers might enjoy the videos enough to make the space worthwhile.

My videos are hosted on Vimeo and I embed them in my blog. I didn't start doing this until I got back so I can't speak to the speed/upload issue. However, the countries you mention should have decent access apart from some off the beaten path areas where he probably won't be for too long.

I hosted my images on my own site in a gallery built with Photostack. I think it's still supported but I haven't updated recently. Sometime I think Flicker may have been easier and there are lots of plugins to show Flicker results on your blog. I like more control over how everything looks, which is why I stayed away from Flicker or even using Gallery which I've never seen integrated in an aesthetically pleasing way.

Make sure he's on Facebook, since most other travelers keep in touch on there and not by email. He might want to put some money is a Skype account to talk to family if he needs to call them on a land line. I got my mom an account and a microphone but she refused to use it.

I will mefimail you my own travel blog. There's so many out there that are bad or only have 10 entries but there's a lot of great ones too.
posted by Bunglegirl at 4:17 PM on May 21, 2008

I blogged when I went travelling for 6 months including through China, SEA (including Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand) and I really had no problem finding internet access when needed.

But - I kept notes on paper (keeps you busy on bus rides) and then transcribed when I had net access.

For photos, I just installed Irfanview and resized, then uploaded to my ftp site as I went along. Originals backed up to my iPod with a camera connector until they were safely on my ftp site. If the uploading was bad, I'd save them to a memory stick until I had a good net connection. All in all, it worked out pretty well.
posted by wayward vagabond at 2:13 AM on May 22, 2008

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