Sunday, 24 February 2013

The Bibbulmun Track: An outback office

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Outback Office
Another week laid low with some pesky chest complaint left me with the opportunity to put together this little piece exploring how I’ll be blogging on the Bibbulmun Track and keeping everyone back home up to date on my progress.

Google Nexus 7

For a while, it seemed as if I was searching for a mythical device; All I was seeking was something light and portable that could perform all the tasks I required for blogging whilst on the Bibbulmun Track; essentially, uploading pictures to Picasa, and using blogger when in range of Wi-Fi. Enter the Nexus 7!

The merits of this tablet as a tool for backpacking, with its GPS signal, have been blogged about by many, including this post from Chris Townsend; "Nexus 7 Tablet for Outdoors" so I’m not going to repeat what has been said eloquently already. Realistically, as I'll be away from a power source for a number of days, using it in the field would be limited so I'll be restricting use for when I hit the towns. What, for me, really brings it into another dimension is the next item.

IVSO® Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard Case For Google Nexus 7 Tablet

For posting to my blog, the official Blogger app is such a disappointment I have to use the blogger website (come on Google, get your act together!).  My first concern was typing on the touch screen keyboard, that pops up on the Nexus’s 7 inch screen, leaving scant space to view what you are actually typing! I have been saved by this wonderful Bluetooth keyboard!

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Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard
This little beauty has literally revolutionised using this tablet! An added bonus is that the keyboard is quite robust, and doubles up as an excellent protective cover! This can be purchased at Amazon.

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Keyboard also acts as a protective cover

Micro USB Host Mode On The Go OTG Cable for Nexus 7

The addition of a Micro B USB Cable means I am able to connect my camera easily, and upload photos to Picasa when I have a Wi-Fi connection. As soon as it is all hooked up and the camera is switched on, I am  automatically taken to my gallery, to view the images, where I have the option to upload my photographs to my Picasa  and Facebook account! Job done!

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Micro B USB Cable
Using the same lead, I also have the option of using a wireless mouse; a luxury, but with a keyboard, it feels more of a natural thing to do, and I may well add it to the kit.

Canon PowerShot Camera

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Canon Powershot SX210 IS
I flogged my SLR a couple of years back, just too much weight to be lumbering around, and half the time it stayed safely in my pack. At least with the PowerShot, it is easily to hand, attached to the chest strap of my rucksack. I can even take the odd photo of myself along the way, as it is light enough to be stuck on the end of my walking pole with the aid of the Stickpic.

SPOT GPS Messenger

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Spot Gen 3
I’ve spoken before about this nifty little gadget. A month doesn't go by without me reading a news story on the internet of someone who has been rescued, thanks to the Spot. Besides being a lifeline in case of emergencies, the tracking system will be updating every five minutes while I am walking. Using the excellent Social Hiking website, my progress can be viewed, LIVE, on one Google map! For more on Social Hiking, visit www.shareyouradventure.com

Custom messages of my whereabouts will be sent by sms and email to my designated contacts, and there is also the option to post them to my Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Weight

So how much is my "Outback Office" going to add to my backpack? Well, I'm not going to include the Spot and batteries (190g), Camera, batteries and charger (490g), as I always carry them, and I class them as essential items. The charger for the Nexus and the keyboard is the same used for both my phone, Kindle, and Petzl headtorch, so I haven't included the 85g this weighs either:

  • Nexus 7 Tablet: 320g
  • Keyboard: 215g
  • Micro USB Cable: 10g
  • Wireless Mouse: 65g
  • TOTAL: 610g

610g extra would likely make an ultralight hiker topple over with a coronary, but it's not a back breaking amount. It will all be put to good use to bring the journey to those that are interested.

Finally, as a testament to the equipment, this post was created, in its entirety, using my Outback Office, and images taken from my mobile phone!