Author Topic: Tour blogging with an iPhone  (Read 1977 times)

Danneaux

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Tour blogging with an iPhone
« on: December 30, 2012, 08:17:24 PM »
Hi All!

I recently helped a friend setup his iPhone for use on his tours. He wanted to use it as a travel'puter to upload/update text and photos for a blog of his travels.

Here's some of the challenges we faced...
iPhone's on-screen keyboard too hard to type on while holding, so needed a keyboard.
Screen glare/visibility was a problem while the phone was laying flat, so it needed a stand.

I solved the problem pretty compactly by suggesting a CellMacs keyboard/stand combo:
http://www.cellmacs.com/iPhone-Sliding-Bluetooth-Keyboard-Case-and-Stand-p/I4K.htm
At USD$40, cost was pretty reasonable and very good build quality and execution in his example.

The keyboard/stand connects to the phone with Bluetooth and uses its own li-ion rechargeable battery for up to 25 days on standby or 8 hours continuous typing. This keyboard is *small* -- akin to the slide-out texting keyboards built into some phone, but with larger keys. He didn't mind it, but  I'm not sure I'd want to thumb-type that much. The iPhone screen is pretty small, but workable. The real attraction of the package was the small size overall (for packing ease) and the battery life. The lot could be charged by dynohub and Life Was Good. Wouldn't be for me, 'cos there's little to no cell-coverage in the places I prefer to tour, and 4G coverage in those areas is even rarer. To each his own.

For charging, I suggested the B&M e-Werk, 'cos he also needed voltages and current other than the standard USB ~5.0vdc@0.5A failsafe provided by the ToutTerrain The Plug 2. Pity he forgot to adjust it back again when he later plugged in his phone and fried it. His reaction summed up here, in stages:  ??? :o :P :-\ :-[ :'(
Just one of the hazards of a moment's inattention when one is tired and hungry and spent after a day climbing hills in Weather. I do wish every take-along gadget was standardized for recharging to standard USB specs and that every device had a user-replaceable battery. With embedded batteries, one can get caught out with a flat unit even with a buffer-battery to charge it. Touring with user-rechargeable gadgets takes planning and foresight.
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I recently came across a very nice "nuts and bolts" description of tour-blogging with an iPhone and larger-sized take-along BT keyboard with the phone converted to a monitor using a Gorillapod (Andre has at least one of these on hand, I've seen it securing the vidcam to his Kranich handlebars). A very clever approach. More space-consumptive, but also more comfortable for extended typing, and the Gorillapod puts the monitor where it is needed, rather than attached to the keyboard.  The author has been kind enough to give some insight into his thought processes when composing, showing how he makes outlines and notes that he later fleshes out into blog posts and updates. All can be seen here: http://thattripcray.com/blogging-while-traveling-abroad-using-the-bare-minimum/
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My own experience helping a friend and this article are really opening my eyes to the possibilities of using an iPhone (and I presume, an Android OS phone with something like: http://www.amazon.com/AmazonBasics-Bluetooth-Keyboard-Android-Devices/dp/B005OOKNP4 ) to blog while on-tour. If you already have such a phone and coverage to power it, the additional expense for a keyboard/monitor stand is minimal and could get one going pretty inexpensively with little additional equipment.

Best,

Dan. (...who thinks iPhone can also mean iType, iView, and iBlog if you get the right accessories for it)

ianshearin

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Re: Tour blogging with an iPhone
« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2012, 09:29:00 PM »
Hi Dan,

Using the iPhone would be a great saving in not having to take/buy another gadget.

A keyboard for an iPhone.. mmmmm that sounds like a compromise I may be able to live with.
My personal dilemma is that my trip is planned for next Autumn, so as you know technology moves on, I want to buy and test gadgets now but dont want to miss out on the latest technology next Sept/Oct.
My contract with 02 (UK phone provider) ends approx the same time im scheduled to leave, so an iPhone 5 or whatever else is out then would be on the cards.

Talking of gadgets I dug out a device I used last Year on a day trip to the Lake District, I used a mini wind generator to power my old gps unit.
Worked fine, so Im thinking I could use my wind generator http://www.maplin.co.uk/hymini-personal-wind-charger-227252 to charge the Garmin 800 and the Dyna Hub to charge the iPhone.
I would probably use battery lights for the wild camp nights so all in all 2 Chargers, 2 devices  voila!
(The Kindle can go for ages before a charge)

I think I will investigate more the iPhone keyboard option over the next few months, if I can use it satisfatory then my gadgets would remain at 3

I know advice I have seen here before suggests that using an iPhone as a GPS route planner might be asking too much, but who knows, maybe that might also be an option and I could negate the expense of a Garmin 800.

*thinking off the top of my head*
Hey I wonder if that new iPad mini might be a great GPS planner, imagine that with a decent mounting device sitting on your bars...
Would be like a Head up Display  ;D
Oh hango on, that would last 10 mins before it was nicked.....

On a completely differnt note, I ordered a Brooks B17 (Honey) today, its the first thing I have bought for my trip and signals the start of my excitement.
I cant help but look at maps every spare second I get, Im becoming obsessed.....
« Last Edit: December 30, 2012, 09:31:34 PM by ianshearin »
In the end, it's not going to matter how many breaths you took, but how many moments took your breath away.
'shing xiong'

Danneaux

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Re: Tour blogging with an iPhone
« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2012, 09:47:05 PM »
Quote
My personal dilemma is that my trip is planned for next Autumn, so as you know technology moves on, I want to buy and test gadgets now but dont want to miss out on the latest technology next Sept/Oct.
Boy, Ian! Do I ever know the feeling! About a month after I bought my GoPro Hero HD2...the 3 came out. At least mine doesn't lock-up while filming, as the 3 currently can. A fix will be on the way shortly, but this goes to show -- 1) newtech replaces oldtech almost continuously and 2) sometimes newtech ain't as good as oldtech if it is rushed to market or unproven. I hate it whenever a manufacturer adds me to their QC division and makes me pay for the privilege!

What I try to do is research my options, then take my best shot. If I have my heart set on something that seems to have a fatal or near-fatal flaw...I wait till the next generation. If there is something that fully meets my needs and has been out long enough to get usability data and reliable user reviews, I'll get it. More and more products are moving toward an 18mo product replacement cycle -- not just refinements, but whole new generations of products roughly every year-and-a-half. I am beginning to think that is generous.

I once read a business analysis of Sony when they introduced the Walkman. At the time, they revolutionized the industry not just with the player, but with their product development. They would develop the ultimate product, then introduce watered-down versions periodically until they reached the ultimate development: The model they'd started with. Meanwhile, they used the time to develop and introduce the next generation of follow-on product, one which -- you guessed it -- was just a smidge better than the "ultimate" it replaced. From outside, it looked like Sony was engaged in steady development and improvement, when the reality was quite different.

Other makers now do the same, but with a twist. In a harsh economy, more and more seem to be scrimping on product development and refinement (as well as quality-control). They rob Peter to pay Paul by selling just enough product to fund the next development -- usually addressing a fatal flaw that greatly affects usability.

I don't blame you for waiting as long as you can, Ian. Here's what I'd suggest: Monitor the market and do the research, then narrow the field down to two or three candidates three months prior to departure. This will give you plenty of time for testing and fallback in case the first option or two fails to pan out. Meanwhile, you've delayed the choice as long as possible to take advantage of any new introductions based on further development of existing models.

That little wind-charger is a pretty nifty device, Ian! Thanks for sharing it with us; lots of possibilities there!

Best,

Dan.
« Last Edit: December 30, 2012, 09:49:27 PM by Danneaux »

il padrone

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Re: Tour blogging with an iPhone
« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2012, 10:38:01 PM »
That little wind-charger is a pretty nifty device, Ian! Thanks for sharing it with us; lots of possibilities there!
However, now no longer available. Some sort of fatal flaw??

BTW looking at its specs, the charging rate seems somewhat underwhelming  performance. Glad I have my Powermonkey Extreme.

ianshearin

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Re: Tour blogging with an iPhone
« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2012, 11:10:38 PM »
I cant really say much about the wind charger, I used it for about 2 Months before I sold my bike. It performed as expected and kept my gps unit charged on a long trip.
I dug it out of a box today, I will check it this Week and see if it will charge my iPhone.

Will report back

Ian
In the end, it's not going to matter how many breaths you took, but how many moments took your breath away.
'shing xiong'

ianshearin

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Re: Tour blogging with an iPhone
« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2012, 11:28:32 PM »
Oooooo just checked out that Powermonkey Extreme Il padrone.
That looks a very cool product, its on my radar now  ;D

Ian
In the end, it's not going to matter how many breaths you took, but how many moments took your breath away.
'shing xiong'