Taunus Hike - Tech Notes

Most text was written with an Apple Newton 2100 MessagePad, old technology that still works well. A Palm would have worked fine for this purpose as well. The advantages of these devices over laptops or mini-notebooks are portability, long battery life, and instant-on functionality. Both use handwriting recognition which have a high rate of accuracy. The Newton recognizes normal handwriting (assuming your scrawl is not too bad), while the Palm uses Graffiti, which requires learning and using a defined set of ways to enter letters and numbers (which can be learned easily). There are other devices, including some Windows CE palmtops, which do handwriting recognition. On some computing devices, I find this method of entering text preferable to using the tiny keyboards, which for me result in more input errors (because of the tiny keys) than with handwriting recognition. Text from the Newton was uploaded to a laptop using a computer-to-computer ethernet cable.
Pictures were taken with an Olympus D340-L digital camera, most at high resolution (1280 by 960). Panoramas were stitched together using Apple's QuickTime VR Authoring Studio. Realia such as tickets were shot using the close-up function of the camera.

Pictures were processed with Adobe Photoshop and Equilibrium's DeBabelizer. The latter is particularly useful for doing batch processing of images. This allows for automatic conversion of pictures to thumbnail size and standard screen resolution (72 dpi). DeBabelizer also has a "batchlist" function which builds an HTML list of images in a given folder, together with their height and width.

BBEdit were used to convert the batchlists generated by DeBabelizer into HTML files. BBEdit's powerful search and replace functions (particularly use of "GREP" and "regular expressions") greatly faciliate that process. Of course, this is overkill if you are only dealing with a few images, but with a significant volume, batch processing is a great help.

Internet Connection
There are a number of options for Internet access in Europe. I have an Earthlink account in the US and there are local European numbers (Earthlink charges .15$/minute for that service).

One of the differences between phone service in the US and most other countries is that abroad local phone calls are billed according to time on-line. No free ride, as in the US. There are other options for getting Internet access aboard, including going to Internet cafes, book stores or even some department stores which make Internet service available. In general these work fine for Web surfing and e-mail, but not as well for file uploading (ie, sending digital images or HTML files back to your server).

Another difference in phone service is abroad is the dial tone. Some modems, including PC card modems, have built-in capabilities to handle different phone systems. However, the easist (and cheapest) solution is to turn off the dial tone recognition in the dialing software. One of the other problems in Germany is the black button on older phones which must be pressed after connecting (to initiate payment tracking); this poses a problem which can be solved by looping the phone into the modem and dialing manually with the phone. Quite a few phones in Europe (and elsewhere) are hard-wired to the wall. Best solution for that problem is an acoustic coupler.

Taunus Hike - Bob Godwin-Jones
© 2001