God sometimes gives us unexpected gifts. Our gift has been a grandson who enlivens our lives and makes retirement very different than the one we anticipated. He is a special joy. And that's "Casey." In 2006 we fulfilled our dream of living in Italy for a year. It was every bit as wonderful as anticipated. This blog begins in 2005 as we prepared for that experience. Since then we have explored many places together. That's the "Travel." And finally, I am a person of opinions--spiritually, politically, on just about anything and that's the "Other Stuff." Welcome to my blog.

Friday, August 15, 2008


I am one of those people who travels with computer, a little under 4 lb one—have done so since 2001. I know that doing this is anathema to many people who see travel time as an escape from a normal, hectic life. I completely understand this position but, I find it a convenience.

I started bringing mine because it is an easy way to journal as I hate, totally hate writing with pen or pencil. The other reason is that having a computer along is a convenient, organized way to handle the hundreds, thousands?, of digital pictures we tend to take. My theory of photography is that if I take 1000 pictures there are bound to be a handful of good ones, maybe 2 or 3 exceptional ones. I download, file and label as we go thus avoiding confusion as to where we were and what the picture is several weeks later when sorting them out.

2001 was really before high speed internet access and dial up was the way. Good providers were ones you paid for, such as AOL. Gaining access in countries or cities away from home base was problematic, expensive and required some advance investigation. But, it still was a 21st century way to keep up with things at home and conveniently communicate across time zones.

As the years passed, access became easier and high speed began to be available in more and more places—particularly in the US. This was not true in Italy. Having been here every year since 2001, we have watched access slowly, incrementally get better. Although, many of my friends here live in areas which still depend on dial-up and even that is iffy at times. Frustration is high with them.

This year we have been surprised by the growth in not only high speed access but wireless since a year ago. In Italy, with the exception of Lakes Garda and Como all of our accommodations have had access. In the Lakes areas, it was available at internet points.

In Croatia, 4 out of 5 places where we were had high speed. For some reason I had not expected this; however, once there it made absolute sense as Croatia is a country very much on the move. It is very clear that they are making great advances in putting the lost years since WWII, Tito and the recent Balkan wars behind them.

Now, in 2008, bringing a computer is for more than journaling and downloading photography. We use it for banking, bill payment, monitoring ATM withdrawals and charges and keeping track of balances. This is so much easier than the convoluted way of doing these things in the past—making sure we had people at home taking care of matters, etc. Again, I know that many people are apprehensive about using the net for these purposes, but, we are OK with it. We only use our own computer and have many safe guards on it.

Another bonus with the computer is SKYPE—calling via the computer for pennies. Of course, again, high speed access is a must. But, it is a good way to keep in touch with home. Actually, you don’t even need to travel with computer anymore to use SKYPE. With a VOIP phone you can call anywhere wherever there is high speed access.

As with all things, there are downsides to this electronic age when traveling. Now we have one entire carry-on filled with nothing but electronics —computer, external drive, quality earphones, IPOD, portable speaker, cameras, current inverter for the plane and car, DVD player, Nintendo DS, GPS, battery charger and, of course, all the cords and adapters required by each of these. It drives Ken crazy as he is not the techie in the family but……….he enjoys the benefits of having a person who is.

Hopefully, there will be no more must have electronics. I have read that there is a move afoot to synchronize chargers so that one size fits all. That would be nice.

One last thought in this rather boring entry, it's a good idea to bring a short ethernet cable with you for places that have high speed but not wireless. Occasionally I have found this useful.


Nancy said...

I would be interested to hear what security precautions you take for your online banking (firewall, security programs, etc).

I got a Sony Vaio to take to Italy next year, and I want to get all set up properly and not have to worry about security.


Jane said...

Nancy, I use Spyware Doctor, Ad-aware, Windows firewall, password locks for sensitive files and the computer. I do not like Norton so have removed it.I have used McAfee but am happy with my current combinations.

I never access sites from e-mails, even if it appears to be from a financial institution I use. If an e-mail comes in, I access from the web.

Never provide sensitive info to a site that does not have a security seal. I do not use the options to store my credit card with sites I buy from such as Barnes and Nobel, etc.

I am sure other people do more extensive stuff than this but so far this has done well.

Jane said...

One more thing, Nancy. I use Firefox rather than IE which supposedly is safer and less inclined to inheriting bad stuff like viruses.

Nancy said...

Thank you, Jane. I appreciate the information

Brad'll Do It said...

Jane, I feel similarly about the benefits of a laptop while travelling. I particularly like keeping track of what's hitting the checking account, and being able to download the gigabyte of pictures we'll take, not to mention a certain spouse's need to keep up with Slow Travel!