COMPUTERS ET. AL.
We have many computers and other peripherals on board. We don't feel badly that we are not going "au natural" because the times just don't dictate that! Many will pride themselves on not having a water maker, or not having any computer, or not using the internet, only staying in remote anchorages. Not us. We brought what we knew, we have children on board, we like towns, marinas, resorts, AND remote anchorages! We like being able to spend a few hours a week getting our pictures downloaded and catalogued, making movies and burning them to CDs to send to family and friends who are interested, and making memories for our children. I know when I get to Virginia and a new house and land issues, I will keep telling myself I will organize our trip information. I won't! I have too much genealogy research to catch up on that I had to leave behind when we decided to do this trip!
Sony Vaio laptop for Letitia and an HP Laptop for Mark.. I (Letitia) use this to do the web site on Front Page software. I also use this to do my accounting on Quicken and email through Outlook Express when I can use either a Wi-Fi or plugging in at an internet cafe or hotel. Also, these laptops are now DVD compliant and you can stock up on DVD's before you leave town! They ain't cheap, but if you are busy for a year getting all your stuff ready to go, you aren't able to see the movies nor take time at night to watch a DVD. So, instead of going to the movies, for 2, for a little more, buy a DVD once a week until you have a bunch that you can watch once a week on your boat for "movie night". Not as a distraction, but ones you actually genuinely would like to see. Get family and friends for a couple of years to give you "sets" of things you would like to see if you had nothing else to do. Especially funny ones! That could be from Sex and the City to the old Lucy shows if you want! Pick your genre and make sure you bring them!
DRIVES: You MUST have for your laptop both a CD-ROM drive, preferably a DVD-CD writer drive, that both plays CDs and writes to CDs (to send home things you have scanned, pictures, etc. and to back up your hard drive and send it home!), but a floppy drive. You must have the floppy drive because you need to always carry around little 3.5 inch discs so that you can download attachments or emails from the internet that you want to take back to your laptop should their be no place to plug in your laptop. This means you don't have to PLAN to go to an internet cafe, but can pop into one every couple of hours if you are looking for info, or email or something like that!
Wi-Fi cards: These are a necessity! At various times you can just plug in your Wi-Fi card and hook into a local net, sometimes for free, sometimes by putting in your credit card! As most internet cafes start at $3.00US an hour (low and rare) to $6.00US an hour, and hotels charge as much as $15, even the hotels only charge $8 to $10 A DAY for Wi-Fi use if you are near their lobby or in a marina that supplies it. That is a lot of sending out emails, researching a new watermaker, looking up that small item you need shipped from the manufacturer in Canada, etc. Not pressed for time, not waiting to use a computer. And, if like us, you have on-line banking, you DON'T want to have to put in your access numbers and passwords on commercial computers where hackers, and even owners of the internet cafes, can track your STROKES with keystroke software! Ouch! It has been very cool to be able to use Wi-Fi! Sometimes we forget to check if hotels near the marina we are staying at have Wi-Fi by just sticking our card in and seeing what develops!
We brought two of these out of blind luck. We brought them because we used them in our office for our wireless system. Never thought they would be useful! So, you can use them on your system when you get home, or, if you are from Seattle, like my friend Janet and her husband, you are already very familiar with wireless! So, bring them along. If you have only one laptop you are taking, bring all your Wi-Fi cards because you never know what might break and they are a small storage issue!
Visioneer Scanner: We have the most wonderful scanner! It is the size of a roll of tin-foil and it self-feeds! It takes pictures, paper, business cards and all sorts of other things! It is small and lightweight. It comes with Paperport software, which is really the most wonderful item in our arsenal on our computers! This program, along with Adobe Acrobat, takes care of issues like getting documents signed, then scanning them onto our computers in Paperport. Then, we print from Paperport to Adobe Acrobat, and save it on a floppy. Then, we put this in our purse or pocket, as the case may be, and when we are at an internet cafe, we email the person who needs the signed document and attach it to a yahoo email to that individual. Most everyone has Acrobat we find!
Visioneer Strobe XP 100. There is a newer model out now I'm sure. In our company we have owned and used for over 4 years, 15 of these feeder desk-top scanners. Not easy to get the scanner to work from the instructions when putting it on your computer, but once you get it, it is forever! Again, used to come bundled with Paperport Software which you can look up on the net. You can ONLY buy this particular Visioneer scanner on the net. NOT available in any store. All the other store-bought Visioneers in the stores are flatbed. No room on a boat!
Cannon BJC-85 Bubble Jet Printer: This little printer has been in our arsenal for years. First, it has an infrared which means no hard connection required with Mark's HP. However, my Sony Vaio did not come with infrared so I have to connect it with a USB cable to my computer. If you have a choice, price-wise, choose the model WITHOUT the battery attachment as it doesn't last but 2 pages and is worthless for the price. However, DO choose the sheet feeder AND the color/B&W! We bought lots of cartridges of black and white AND color before we left. Just found they sell it in the Paper store in Zihuatenejo though I didn't compare prices. Buy enough to last.
(open) Note extended infrared port on left side. Puts back flush when finished.
Closed. Very small, very light!
CAMERAS: Okay, we are pigs in this regard. My feeling is that this is a trip of a lifetime! I want to remember it, as well as enjoy it. I am reasonably versed in digital cameras, how to take the pictures and how to download them. As well, I bought Flip Album software so that I could make "albums" of different things and send them home! It uploads photos then allows you to add music, etc. and then you burn it to your CD on your computer, assuming you get a computer with this capability, and send it home with the next person in town that is going home to the states. NEVER trust Mexican mail! EVER. Stories later.
I have, from a previous trip to Africa in 2001, an Olympus C-700 Ultra Zoom 21 megapixel. It has an optical Zoom 10x and is amazing for getting shots up close from a long long distance. You can imagine how beneficial this was in Africa! Well, from the distance cliffs along the coast of Mexico, it is even more important! We loved it so much that I bought my husband another one, only of a lesser model and zoom (and price) the C-2040zoom, 2. 1 Megapixel. We are so spoiled by the C-700 that we rarely take this one off the boat. Both will take a short movie however the suffix on the movies it takes will not up-load into Windows Movie Maker software (which is my newest cool software item and toy!). The only issue with the C-700, which I understand now is out-dated and their is certainly better (mine is now going on 3 years old and in digital technology that is REALLY old) is that the optical piece is not good at all at night. You have to see your item, then look into the viewfinder, all the time seeing nothing at night but pitch black as opposed to the lighted mansion on the hill, or the Egret on your bow pulpit, then take a picture with the flash and hope it gets it right! Couple of tries and it will! However, it is regrettable for what I paid for this camera, but she is a workhorse and shoots gorgeous pictures from far away!
Movie Cameras: Yes, I'm a pig here too. I have two movie cameras, both digital. I have from my Africa trip in 2001, the Digital video camera DR-DVM70 by JVC. I love this camera. I then bought as a back-up, from the same company (helps to keep the learning curve lower when you stay with the same company and many times the connections and other things work on both, which actually didn't turn out to be the case overall). However, the learning curve was much smaller! The second digital camera is the JVC GR-DVP3 which is a MPEG4 video clip/MP3/XGA digital stills/USB connector digital camera. It takes video, and it takes stills. High marks for both!
Serial Port Connector: In order to use the Single Side Band Radio for weather faxes, you must connect the serial port to your computer. Newer laptops do not seem to have serial ports anymore. So, we had to buy a USB-to-Serial Port hub in order to connect it to either computer. Just thought you should think about this part!
STILL MORE TO COME! UNDER CONSTRUCTION!
Current site of the Green Family Voyage