The Sony Vaio TX3XP laptop has been great. It’s a tiny thing with a decent keyboard and an 11.1″ screen. The battery life is awesome, usually giving up to 7hrs. There’s an 80GB HDD and I’ve an 80GB Philips USB HDD, too.
Most useful when travelling is being able to backup everyones’ photos so that we can all take as many as we like (and I’ve automatically got copies of everyones’). Flickr Uploadr is crashing out on me at the moment so I’ve changed to jUploadr.
It’s possible to get an internet connection even out at Karmi Farm. I can do it on my own phone but at £8/MB (Orange UK) it’s a little pricey. I reckoned that picking up my e-mail headers and choosing the four I wanted to download cost me £4. It takes about 10mins, too. Andrew, the owner of Karmi Farm, has a good unlimited account on his mobile for the equivalent of £5/month. I can use this through his machine by using my USB key drive and The Bat! Voyager then synching that with The Bat! on the laptop. This may be painful but it’s better than a six hour plus round trip to Darjeeling only to find out that the server is down.
I did think that maybe I’d be able to use a local SIM card in my phone but discovered my phone wasn’t unlocked (d’oh!). It worked in another phone we had with us so we bought a two month pay-as-you-go for Rs300. It stopped working after a couple of days, however, and we discovered they’d lost the paperwork so had had to suspend the service … This is even after we bought the SIM at *exactly* the same time as our friend who was, in fact, the only other customer in the shop. Her phone has been fine.
Our friend had a good idea and gave her Indian number to her mum who then called her via Skype. This is a great way of staying in touch and you could just place your UK SIM on divert to voicemail and leave a message with your overseas number for any callers you may have.
Another good way of making inexpensive international calls would be if I’d brought my little Samsung WEP200 headset – one of those little in-ear Bluetooth devices. I can pair it with the laptop and use it where there’s WiFi broadband, i.e. in Glenary’s, Darjeeling where their 64kbps broadband is just Rs30/hr.
I’ve also tried writing a little Electronic Health Records system for the clinic but I tried first in Access and got stuck as I’ve not developed in it before, then in XForms through Portable Open Office but again got stuck. I really miss the internet! Ultimately I think I’ll write it for Mono but all the documentation was online. I can then put it on an old laptop and send it out with Andrew. In the clinic you can place a large car battery for when the power goes off (as it does most days) with a Rs200 inverter. I should be able to support it via e-mail. We did want to use Saroj’s old Compaq Armada 1530DM, a hand-me-down from Andrew, but it hasn’t any network capability (no Ethernet, Bluetooth, WiFi or even IR). It does have a PCMCIA slot so I’ll send out an Ethernet card and a crossover cable.
We’re also going to create a Karmi Farm Clinic website – we have a few lovely photos to go on :). It would be good for letting medics know what to expect if they decide to go out there.