April 12, 2009

Tour of the Technology for the Trip

Zhou told me earlier this week that I should create an iPhone application, much like this guy. Since I know what's best for me, I simply said, "Sure, no problem," and nodded my head. (She has also "suggested" that I do the hula in front of 500 people...)

Apparently writing code for iPhone applications is not too difficult, and seeing that I am a computer science major (I think), I should have a leg up on the competition. So I have now added this to my life's to do list, right in between completing the Wendy's 99 Cent Menu Challenge (inflation is going to make this one a slam dunk) and coaching a Jamaican bobsled team (if John Candy can do it, who can't?).

The idea of writing an iPhone app got me thinking: there's got to be a better way to design peanut butter containers to limit the amount of peanut butter that goes to waste. It also got me thinking about applications that would help us on our trip around the world. After all, the apps currently on Zhou's iPod Touch - Tangrams, a level - will probably not be of any value to us on our journey, unless of course we encounter a crooked shelf. However, before we get into creating and marketing an extraneous piece of software, there are many other technological problems that we will need to sort out.

To start, should we bring a laptop? In today's world of machines becoming more "Zhou-sized," packing a laptop is becoming more feasible. Our current stance is if we have room under our gear budget and in our backpacks, then we'll look into it in more depth. I see the following benefits of carrying a laptop:

- Blog posts coming at ya anytime we get wireless
- Quick access to Excel spreadsheets for data entry
- Collateral anytime someone takes our Scrabble board

On the flip side, here would be a few disadvantages:

- A wallet that's been mysteriously reduced by $300+
- Bait for muggers and thieves
- No swimming with our packs on
- The hassle laptops create at airports

The last consideration is reason alone not to carry a laptop. We'll already be bogged down with 3-ounce liquids and nail clippers, and I really hate being that person who uses the last three gray bins with no regard for the people next in line. Anyway, if we were to take a laptop, it would probably be the Dell Inspiron Mini 9. If anyone has ever used one, please let us know what you think.

Our next technological decision relates to our choice of phones / long-distance calling cards. There are many different viewpoints on how best to keep in touch, but we have narrowed our choices down to four.

Our choice du jour is to take the Blackberry that I currently use for work (if I can separate it from the negative connotations of midnight emails and weekend staffings). It's an 8830 World Edition, which can be "unlocked" for less than $30 and then would be compatible with foreign SIM cards that we can purchase in countries around the world. I think that would give us the freedom to talk as much as we want in some countries, while keeping to ourselves in others and blaming it on either high-priced SIM cards or no access to SIM cards at all.

Our other choices include buying prepaid calling cards throughout the world, using Skype whenever we get wireless, or taking a cup and a really really long string. We could also do some combination of the aforementioned choices (but no, not a really long string and a calling card).

Of all the technological decisions we will face, the one thing most important to us is keeping up with the blog so Paul, Hadley, Matt and our soon-to-be billions of followers can keep tabs on what we're up to. So tell all your friends - here are the future plans for http://kevinandzhou.blogspot.com/ (yes, I just included a link to the very site you're reading).

Zhou and I are taking a couple months off before taking our year off to travel, and in those two months, my one and only project will be to design a website that we will pay for out of our own pockets (don't worry - we're counting it against our travel budget, so it's like we're not spending any real money at all). When this thing of beauty is complete, we are debating whether to transfer the blog to the website, or keep it here and link the two together. I can't tell you what is the current front-runner for our website's name, because someone is sure to grab it and hold it for ransom. However, if you have any good ideas of your own, please do let us know - we're not married to the site name yet.

Once we leave the United States, our goal will be to have a post written for every day of our journey. This does not mean we will post every day, but we will hand write our posts daily (you know, like the pilgrims used to do) and put them all up at once when we get to an internet cafe (maybe not exactly like the pilgrims). So imagine the incredible excitement you get every Sunday night and multiply that by seven, if you can. It'll be that good.

Puzzles for Postcards (list of winners):

The #1 Reason To Get Up In The Morning Anagram:
"A thirsty group wants coffee in bulk, or guppies"

Scrabble Games: 39 (full log)
Zhou WPLB: 22; 367; 365; VITTLES, ASExUAL
Kevin WPLB: 17; 361; 364; PARTIERs


  1. The best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup!

    Count it. I'm on the board. Paul and Hadley better be getting scared.

  2. I vote for moving the blog to the website! Or if there's any way you can integrate them... It gets a little messy / weird when the blog is on a totally separate page and it's awkward getting back to the original website. I like assuming the regular folks are dumb. Or can't see very well. :)

  3. oh yeah!!! and there's WordPress!!! Which all my more tech-savvy friends say is >>>>> than blogger. Apprently though, you have to learn the language or something complicated like that (read: something over my head). All my more tech-savvy friends have that on their webpages instead. Maybe there's an easy way to transfer over...

  4. Or you can do all of your posts on Twitter! That way you can do them from your phone. The only problem is that you'll only have 140 charact

  5. Well John Candy didn't live for very long; so, give that one a think-over before you do anything brash!

    Jamaican bobsled team....