Tech Stuff

Many of you know that I’m a tech-nerd. I spent 10 years in the robotic software business at ABB Robotics and loved every minute of it. For all you geeks out there, here is the software in action:

OK… back to reality and my trip to the Camino.

When I made the decision to do the Camino, I also decided I would document the trip by creating a daily photo/travel blog. As you will see this decision had a major impact on my packing and pack weight. Many of the people who have done the Camino discourage blogging. They say it takes away from the experience of the Camino (which I can understand) and adds considerable extra weight to your pack. However, I have been blogging about my adventures for the past 8 years and it has become part of my DNA, so I’m going to do it.

Many of you know that every summer Susie (my wife) and I spend the month of June on vacation (since I have my summers off as a college professor). We find a fun/interesting city (Rome, Barcelona…) and we rent an apartment for the month, have no rental car, cook many of our meals at home and live like the locals. I have created a daily photo/travel blog for each of these trips. If you are interested, here are my other  travel/photo blogs: http://www.jjshields.com/

Once I decided to blog, it was time to find the best/lightest tech. Here is what I’m taking:

Apple iPad Pro 10.5

I do all my photo editing and blogging on a Windows laptop when I travel. I bring my monster 17″ Acer gaming laptop because it has great video/photo editing power. However, the beast weighs nearly 9 pounds!!! So I needed to find a different/lighter option and bought an iPad Pro 10.5.ipad-pro-10in-wifi-select-gold-201706

This my friends was a tough decision. I have never owned an Apple product and never had any interest in any of their products. I’m an Android fanboy! I chose the iPad because I need to edit my photos and the photo editing software is better on the iPad than on Android. I have been really struggling with the iPad… Apple has locked down everything in the operating system and I can’t get used to that. Some say this strategy is called “A walled garden”. Coming from the freedom of Android, it feels more like a prison 🙂

Keyboard/Case

I didn’t buy the Apple keyboard or the Apple keyboard case. Why? Because of weight (plus they are stupidly expensive). I ended up buying the iClever Universal Wireless Keyboard.  Besides being lightweight, the keyboard will also work with my Android phone (if I need to use it) and the keys are backlit for those times I will be blogging in the dark 🙂

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For my case, I looked for the lightest case available (that also offered some degree of protection) and bought the JETech Case for Apple iPad Pro 10.5 Inch.

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This combination saved me 8 ounces over the Apple solution (and I saved some major cash!):

  • Apple iPad Pro + Apple Keyboard Case = 39oz
  • Apple iPad Pro + iClever Keyboard + JetTech Case = 31oz
  • Total weight saving =  8oz

I know that 8oz might not seem like a lot, but I have learned that every ounce counts when you are carrying the weight on your back.

USB Charger/Portable Battery

Because I will be staying in hostels along the Camino, I decided to try a different approach to charging all my tech devices. I’m concerned about the security of my devices, and I don’t want to be tethered to devices while they are being charged in the hostels. So here’s my plan:

  • I bought the lightest/best 10,000mAh portable battery I could find (the Mi Compact Power Bank Pro – it weighs 12oz) and plan to charge this up every day in the hostels. This battery also supports fast charging of devices on the output side AND I can charge the battery quickly because it supports fast charging on the input side.

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  • During the day (while I’m hiking) I will connect the battery to my iPad and other devices while I’m walking. This way, when I’m done walking for the day & checked in at the hostel, all of my devices will be charged.
  • My thinking is that leaving my battery unattended to charge at the hostel is safer than leaving my iPad, phone… to charge.

I ended up buying a new USB charger because my current charger is a little heavy. I got the YIHUNION 61W 4-Port USB Wall Charger (10oz) and saved 6oz!

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Besides saving weight, this unit has some great features:

  • This unit has 61 watts of output. This is enough power to quick charge my battery, iPad and phone all at the same time.
  • It supports the Apple PD quick charge standard. NOTE: I had to spend $25! for the stupid Apple cable to get fast charging to work. Generic cables do not support fast charging 😦
  • It supports quick charging for my Android phone.
  • The plug is replaceable and changeable (see below):

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  • This is great for 2 reasons:
    1. I replaced the US plug with a Euro plug so I can plug it directly into a wall socket.
    2. The input port on the charger is the same format as a PC extension cord. This means I can tether the charger from a wall socket if needed with an extension cord. Here is the Euro cord I will be bringing (2oz):

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Phone

I will be bringing my LG V20 phone on the trip. This phone is unlocked so I can use a Spanish sim card in the phone. This is probably the most under-rated phone over the past 5 years. One of the great features is it has a replaceable battery (very few phones have this feature).

For the Camino, I bought an extended battery for my phone. With normal use (with the regular battery) I can get about1.25 days of use on a charge. With the new PowerBear LG V20 Extended Battery I can get almost 3 days of use. This means less recharging on the Camino. The only downside is the extra weight (about 3oz) and now my phone looks pregnant 🙂

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Camera

This was another tough decision. Photography is one of my hobbies and I have a great Sony A6300 camera (if you are interested, here are some of my better photos LINKY). Even though the Sony is a very compact camera it still weighs a lot (1.8 lbs/816g with my 18-200 lens). Below is a good comparison between my camera (note the A6000 is the same size as my camera) and a “typical” digital camera:

Sony-Alpha-a6000-vs-Canon-EOS-Rebel-T6-size-comparison.jpg

So I am taking my little Sony RX100 V on the Camino. Here is size comparison of the RX100 & A6300:

Sony-Alpha-a6300-vs-Sony-Cyber-shot-DSC-RX100-V-size-comparison.jpg

Some of the trade-offs with using the RX100 include:

  • The big one is the lens. It is fixed on the RX100 and the zoom range is only 24-70mm where my A6300 allows me to change the lens. Most of the time I use a 18-200mm zoom lens on my A6300 which is much more adaptable to more situations.
  • The sensor size on the RX100 is smaller than the A6300 which means the RX100 will have more grain in low light conditions.

Having said this, the RX100 is still a great compact camera. In fact, most camera review sites say it is the best camera for the size.

Watch

I will be bringing my Android Smart Watch with me. It is an LG Urbane 2nd Edition.

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The main reason for bringing this watch is to help reduce the time it takes to write my blogs.

SAY WHAT???? How can a watch help with your blogging??? Stick with me…

  • I have programmed one of the buttons on the watch to start Microsoft OneNote. This means I can just start speaking into my watch (ala Dick Tracey :-)) and OneNote will convert my spoken words into text. OneNote will then upload the text to the cloud and when I turn-on my iPad the texts will automatically be downloaded.
  • So, as I’m walking the Camino and have a great thought/idea/experience for my blog, I can just click the button on my watch and record it. When I’m ready to write my blog, I just need to fire-up OneNote on my iPad and copy & paste my words into my blog post. Pretty cool!
  • I have tested this on my training hikes and it works well.
  • If I didn’t have this watch I would have to stop every time, pull out my notepad, write it down and then type it into the iPad at night. Waaaaaaaay to much time & effort!

My goal is to spend NO MORE than 1 hour per day on my blogging. I think using the watch to record my thoughts will help me reach this goal.

Headphones

Yes, I know this is a luxury item. However, during my training hikes, I notice that my pace increases and the music just puts me a good place (especially if it a song by Justin Beaver :-))

I have been a longtime fan of the Bose QC 20 noise-canceling earphones. They are fantastic on those long flights or any time I want some quiet time. However, I’m taking the Sony 1000X Earphones for the following reasons:

  • I tried them and they do a better job with noise-canceling than my Bose.
  • They are wireless… the Bose are not.
  • They have 12-14 hours battery life… the Bose ~8 hours.

Here is what they look like:

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Well, that’s about it for my tech stuff.

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