Panama Canal Cruise Technology Recap

Well, now that I’ve been back from my month-long hiatus, it’s time to review the technology used while travelling.  Here is a listing of what hardware I took along as well as software used to blog and/or communicate.

Acer Aspire One NetBook Computer

Flip Video Camcorder

HP Photosmart R817 camera

SkyFi3 Satellite Radio with antenna

Sanyo cell phone on Bell Mobility network

Windows Live Writer


The Acer was great.  I could take it anywhere on the ship.  I could fit it into my Holland America bag or just hang on to it as it virtually weighs nothing.  After a few days of typing my blog I got quite proficient at using the keyboard though I’m still debating on getting the newer 10.1” model – just as light but screen and keyboard are a little bigger so it may not fit as easily into handbags and totes. There were some problems getting the Internet at some places onboard including our stateroom and I’m not sure whether it was the strength of the wireless in the Acer or problems with the ship’s wireless.  There were times when their Internet was extremely slow.  Several people had complained as you pay by the minute and most of that time was spent waiting.

I took hundreds of video clips with my Flip but I found one major flaw.  Uploading video to YouTube to attach to my blog was unbelievably slow and with a minimum of $.40/minute, it was just too costly.  There has to be a faster way to upload videos.  Hopefully I will find it before the next trip.  The nice thing about the Flip is that you can get stills from your video so if I didn’t have any good pictures from my camera I could check the video and create a picture to upload to the blog.  In fact, next time I may leave my camera at home altogether.  With the camera you’re always getting that split-second shot where someone usually has their eyes closed or someone has walked into the picture.  You know how that is.  With the Flip you can take video of everyone and everything and then step though it to find the best shot AND the pictures seem to be much clearer than with the camera.

As stated above, I didn’t use the camera too much and when I did I found that a lot of the pictures were somewhat blurry.  Don’t know if it was me or the ship moving… Anyway, it was a pain to carry both camera and Flip around so I am seriously debating leaving it at home in the future.

Fortunately before I left I decided to download some of my favs onto my SkyFi3 just in case the satellite didn’t work.  Even though the headset (antenna) is supposed to pick up signals when you are outside, it didn’t.  Basically I used it like an iPod instead.  XM Radio is not available everywhere!

Communications, other than email, were at a stand-still.  Once we left Fort Lauderdale I had no service at all until San Diego.  My travel partner, Rick, had a Blackberry on the Rogers Network, and he had service at every port.  He would get this really nice Welcome text message from whatever network was in that particular country and all his text and voice messages would come through.  What I found interesting though is that my Roger’s Internet stick did not work at all.  Isn’t it the same network?? Guess not.  So I guess it’s time to breakdown and get a “blackberry” and change networks.

The Windows Live Writer is a great tool.  I could start drafts of the days ahead of time if I wanted and then add things as we went along.  It was really easy to add pictures, hyperlinks and tags without using any Internet time.  So I could take my netBook anywhere to write and when I was ready I’d go find a place where I could get access and then press the Publish button and away it would go.  The Publish is very fast – even with pictures – so it didn’t take a lot of Internet time.  I’m really impressed with the way Live Writer interfaces with the Internet to publish blog entries.  Fast and efficient.  Got to like that.

So before my next trip I need to find a faster way to upload videos to my blog and get a new cellphone/blackberry on a different network, The XM Radio I guess I can do without as long as I have My Music filled with good beach tunes..

If anyone has any solutions or recommendations for the two major problems I encountered, please feel free to share!