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David's Alpine photo fail

On Friday I took a flight to the Alps, courtesy of Alcatel-Lucent, who wanted to show me how their comms tech had helped to organise the complex Ultra-Trail Mont Blanc, a high altitude ultramarathon. OK, so it was a wee bit of a jolly - let's be frank - but I did sincerely intend to file a photo story based on the event.
Written by David Meyer, Contributor on

On Friday I took a flight to the Alps, courtesy of Alcatel-Lucent, who wanted to show me how their comms tech had helped to organise the complex Ultra-Trail Mont Blanc, a high altitude ultramarathon. OK, so it was a wee bit of a jolly - let's be frank - but I did sincerely intend to file a photo story based on the event.

It's not just Alcatel that gets coverage there - some cool stuff was also being done with Google Maps and SMS-sending GPS modules. However, I cannot currently show you that whizzy gadgetry, thanks to a series of tech fails. I'm currently on holiday (see how guilty I feel for not filing my story?) so you'll have to wait until next week to see the gallery.

What tech fails were those, you ask. First and foremost, it was my failure to bring a laptop with me. Silly as that may sound, it was rooted in my desire to be carrying as little expensive stuff around with me as I went on my holiday, which is largely hostel-based (hadn't done it for years, may not do it again for a while either). I did contemplate bringing a netbook, but failed to find one lying around the office that a) had a power supply and b) no-one minded being pinched for a week.

So, my first attempt to file the photos fell foul of the wonderful Pentium IV in the Ultra-Trail press office. It did have a USB port (woohoo) but I didn't have a USB-to-mini-USB lead to hand at the time, for connecting my little Ixus camera. The PC had no SD card slot. Fail.

After Chamonix, where I'd been based, I went on to a little town called Courmayeur, on the Italian side of Mont Blanc. No internet cafe. One restaurant claimed to have free Wi-Fi (not much use without a laptop, mind you), but my Nokia certainly couldn't find it. Fail.

Today I came down to smoggy Turin/Torino. Booked into a hostel offering free internet, and... it didn't work. Oh, and the PC was a Pentium III with no USB ports, never mind anything else. I did subsequently find an internet cafe, which is where I am now, and by golly did it get me excited. The PC has USB ports, an SD slot and everything. It recognised my camera, and then.... nothing. No external drive capability recognition. I take out the SD card and put it in the slot... nothing. Perhaps because it's an SDHC card. Again, fail.

Sorry for this tale of woe, but I did feel something of an obligation to apologise to you readers (not to mention my editors) for failing to show you the pretty pictures I took in a timely manner. What I will do instead is try to distil the two lessons I may have learned:

1) Netbooks are actually quite a handy idea. Cheap(ish), very portable and useful in a situation like mine. Albeit only with functioning Wi-Fi and internet connectivity.

2) The Alps, and Northern Italy, seem to have something against me when it comes to finding modern computers and/or the intarwebs.

Until next week - unless I find the modern PC slash intarwebs stuff beforehand. I'm off to find out why I came to Turin.

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