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ElectronicsOn Paula and Lorenz's honeymoon bike trip through Europe in 1985, the list of electronic equipment would have included but one item: a watch. Today, less than twenty years later, electronic gizmos are, much to Lorenz's delight and Paula's despair, scattered throughout our gear. Electronics are a key ingredient in the success of the world ride since the communication with sponsors, supporters and armchair adventurers is what makes this ride special. While it is truly a modern miracle that Anya can send homework realtime to her US teacher from an Italian Alpine roadside, electronics also have added a degree of complexity that we have not experienced before. Making all the electronics function properly consumes hours of Lorenz's time. Phone systems keep changing, batteries need charging and the correct electrical adapter can never be found (Italy has 4!! different plug types!). Downloading data is a never ending challenge which entirely depends on the good will of internet cafe owners to let questionable data from unshaven bicyclists be stored on their hard drives. The following is a list of the electronic dohickies (that is the correct technical term) that we are using on the world ride:
The first phone is a Blackberry 6710, which is actually a handheld computer that can send wireless e-mails form anywhere that there is data service (so far all of Italy, Austria but none of Greece). The Blackberry is tiny and not much larger than a pack of cigarettes. The minute keyboard (the size of a pack of gum) is actually operated with your thumbs and is amazingly efficient. This entire web page has actually been typed at various roadsides in Italy and Austria. The Blackberry has been a lifesaver(!!) since it allows us to send information and news from the road, when we can not find an internet cafe (which is a lot of the time). The Blackberry, besides being a regular cell phone, also has limited Internet access. We regularly find out about about facts, like the European weather, political situations (like the strike in France) and the release date for Harry Potter #5 via the Blackberry's web brouser. Everyone on the team uses the thing all the time and it looks like we will need to start a "take a number" system soon. Thank you T-Mobile!
The second phone that T-Mobile donated is a Samsung V205 camera phone. With it we can call all over the world, send short text messages to other cell phones (a great feature when we have no e-mail service) and take digital (low resolution) photos that we can e-mail from the phone wirelessly to anywhere in the world. The Samsung is extremely user friendly, has excellent sound quality and includes an excellent voicemail system that we use constantly since we do not leave our telephones on all the time.
Updated: June 27, 2003