Two Weeks in Iceland - Lessons Learned

After two weeks living in a camper truck traveling all over Iceland, here are a few lessons that I learned - mostly the hard way.- I hate the Synaptic ClickPad.
Written by J.A. Watson, Contributor

After two weeks living in a camper truck traveling all over Iceland, here are a few lessons that I learned - mostly the hard way.

- I hate the Synaptic ClickPad. Period. When I first saw it, I thought that it might be a good idea. When I first started struggling with it, I thought that perhaps I just needed to get used to it, and figure out how to use it properly. Now, after two weeks of fighting with it in various cramped spaces both in and out of the camper, I can state without reservation that it is just a nightmare to use. There are lots of reasons, but the biggest one is simply that drag-and-drop becomes click-and-pray, and seldom (very, very seldom) produces the desired results.

- Netbooks in general are wonderful, for all the reasons that they really should be. Size and weight are at the top of the list, but with newer netbooks such as my HP dm1-3115 another huge advantage is the very long battery life. Being able to use the netbook all evening to download and process pictures taken during the day, without being tethered to a power source or even having to worry about getting 220v connected to the camper is really nice.

- Multi-function / Multi-device power adapters, such as the iGo Travel Chargers are wonderful. One charger that will take input from 110/220v AC or 12v DC (such as auto cigarette lighter / "accessory power" plugs), and has multiple tips so that it can be used to charge virtually any notebook, netbook, cell phone, smart phone or whatever. Caveat: Make sure that you have the right tips for all of your devices before you go.

- Cellular data access when you are traveling in remote locations can be dodgy. Duh. I think we have a tendency to take this for granted, especially when we talk about 3G (or even 4G) Wireless Broadband, HSPA and such. During the two weeks that I was almost constantly on the move in Iceland, I would estimate that I was able to get a usable cellular data connection no more than 50% of the time. Our cell phones worked all the time, as far as I could tell, but when the signal strength was low my Huawei USB cellular modem either would not connect, or it made such a low-speed unreliable connection that I wasn't able to use it.

- Don't forget to take adequate backup media along when you travel. Of course you are going to be unloading your digital camera to your netbook regularly, but then make sure that you copy your data to some other safe media such as a USB stick or external hard drive. Traveling in very rough and very dusty conditions increases the chances of mechanical failure of the netbook, and you really don't want to risk losing all those beautiful pictures to a disk crash. Another excellent step would be to replace the mechanical disk drive with an SSD, thus reducing the risk of mechanical failure.


P.S. If there are any Ridley Scott or "Alien" fans out there, I can confirm that the rumors of him filming part of his new movie (Prometheus) in Iceland are true. We had to take a large detour off of an already minimal road at the base of Mt. Hekla because they were filming there the day that we passed that way.

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