Going on a Digital Vacation

3 03 2009

As we enter our final week prior to our big family trip to Hawaii, I’ve been scurrying around trying to get things in place. Flight info, travel, hotel, the usual things right? Well, as a Dad, a geek and a budding amateur photographer, I’m also struggling with the questions of what gear do I take? This isn’t going to be a camping trip where electronics aren’t allowed. But, I still want to take the fewest things possible. Here, I present my vacation suggestions.

First, take your laptop. I recently upgraded my MacBook Pro to have 500 GB of drive space. That sounds like a lot, and normally it should be enough space. But, since I’m going to basically be on a mission of gathering digital artifacts, I’m going to need all the space I can get. I’m also bringing along an external drive with 250 GB of space. This drive is a normal laptop drive housed in a nice enclosure. In all, ~650GB of space should be enough. I like to be prepared. But, what is all this space for? Well…

Second, take a digital camera. I’m taking two. Recently, I upgraded my DSLR to the Canon Rebel XSi. I’ve got a few good lenses now, and I plan to set aside some time during this trip to just take some photographs. Hopefully the kids won’t mind. I’m also taking my new Canon SD880. The photos that come out of it are terrific for the size of the camera, and I’ll have it in my pocket, ready at a moment’s notice. Perfect for those times when you just don’t want to lug around an SLR and three different lenses. But these cameras only take a few GB of pictures, you say? Sure, but I use the DSLR in RAW mode, so I’m using 12 MB per picture (it’s a 12 megapixel camera). Ok, fine, but that still seems like overkill on the space…

Until you consider the digital camcorder. While my SD880 does have a movie mode, I also plan on packing my Sanyo HD1000. This high definition camcorder is capable of recording in 1080i resolution. I have a 4 GB card for it to help my be more mindful of my recording. I may yet still find an affordable 16 GB card for it. But, if you add up a few hours (over two weeks) of video, well, you can easily eat up the 250 GB drive alone.

Now, if you’ve read down to this point and started thinking “This dude is a total geek, and is crazy for trying to do all that to his family on vacation”, well, you’re right. I don’t plan on record every single second of my trip. However, there will be days where I will be focused on the pictures, and others where I will focus on the activity in front of me. But, it sure doesn’t hurt to bring along these little items just in case because they are just so small these days.

So, check back here, our vacation site, or on our photo page to see how our vacation is going!

Aloha!

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I Need to Unplug

29 01 2009

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I’d consider myself fairly patched into the grid. You can search for me on Google, and get something fairly accurate. I do nearly everything online: search for restaurants, get maps of the world, watch TV shows. In fact, when we first moved into our house three years ago, the cable guy said he could connect our TV that night. We told him it was more important to connect the Internet. We didn’t get cable TV for another three days, and later cancelled it anyway.

There are many a days where I feel like a character from the Matrix: weaving my way in and out of weird places on the Internet, looking for the answer to the ultimate question. Of course, regular life isn’t as exciting as a multi-million dollar cult movie, but I still can’t help but feel the similarities. I’m sure I’m not alone. Most of my waking day is near a computer of some form or fashion. Thus is the world we have made for ourselves.

I find it difficult to remember a time when computers were still a hobby for most people, or when most technologies were based on analog foundations. Can you remember how it was in a time before cell phones? Life is more convenient in many cases now, but I still can’t help but wonder if this is the right direction for society to move towards.

I still love what I do, being in on the edge of technology and being there for the next big thing. But, working in a field that changes on almost a daily basis takes a toll. Add in other life interests and children, and there is not a whole lot of downtime factored in there. As such, it is easy for someone like me to become overloaded.

Many days, I find that my brain just can’t do everything it needs to do in order to grok the latest information of the day and deal with family issues and still try to work on things that I find personally enjoyable. I’ve had a backlog of personal todos for quite a while, but I find that I haven’t been able to make a significant dent in any of them.

This may sound like a problem whose solution is the GTD system. While I like the idea, I never really seem to modify the system to work for me. I think I’m not trying hard enough. Maybe I’m just too tired of looking for the next system that will work for me. Always looking for the next big thing is part of my job and career and life, and not doing that is tough.

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I want to be more proactive in tackling things from here on out. But, still, I feel that I (not to mention my family) is in dire need of a true vacation. So, we’re going to head out to the Islands of Hawaii in the next couple of months. We’re going to do our share in helping the american economy as much as we can (it’s just one excuse we joke about). And while this trip was a spur of the moment decision, as the days approach, I find myself more and more excited. I feel like a kid on Christmas day; a feeling I don’t think I’ve allowed myself to have for many years. It feels good. But still, I wonder if these feelings arise because we’re going to travel to a whole new part of the world for us, or is it due to the simple fact that we’re going to Hawaii. The reason I wonder is because I really think I’m more excited to go just to be away from everything for two whole weeks. Instead of just taking a week off here or there, and taking care of things at home, really pack up, get out and don’t think about the grid for a while. That is something I haven’t done in a long time, and frankly, it’s probably going to feel like trying to break a bad habit cold turkey. In the long run, it will be better for my to unplug from the grid for a while and try to soak in some tropical nature. I can’t wait. And, neither can my family. Aloha!