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19 years ago in TidBITS: Traveling with technology



  Gideon Greenspan on a beach in 1999

Photo provided by Gideon Greenspan

We have another trip down the memory road for you, this time to update the memory of how it was to travel with technology by the turn of the century. Gideon Greenspan, who ran a shareware firm called Sig Software at the time, wrote a few articles for TidBITS to prepare for and then take a 2-month trip to Asia while managing his business on a PowerBook G3.

In "Working Off The Beaten Track" (December 6, 1

999), Gideon outlined his plans, which led to a PowerBook G3, which was needed to run the payment processing system, a wonderfully hacked-together combination of HyperCard, FileMaker Pro and Emailer , all connected via AppleScript. He also packed a Zip drive and disks for backup, various cables, a security cable, and an extra battery for the PowerBook G3. The entire setup costs him about $ 3,500, or about $ 5,100 in today's dollar – think about it next time you price a MacBook Pro and its necessary dongles. Much of Gideon's first article was used to think about how he would get online to send and receive emails while on the road.

But everything worked well, as Gideon later reported in "Working Off the Beaten Track, Part 2" (28 February 2000). He had chosen a service called Gric who claimed to offer a global roaming network for dial-up Internet access, and while dialup proved troublesome, he had little trouble finding internet cafes so he could keep Software humming together. The weight of the PowerBook G3 was a problem, as you might imagine, but he mentioned how much he liked having his music with him in MP3 format on the laptop – the first iPod would not appear for another 2 years. Most entertaining was his choice of a padded FedEx box instead of a regular laptop case.

So where is Gideon today, and what would he wear with him on a trip now? He went back to university to get a Ph.D. in computer science, but chose not to enter academia. Sig Software is mostly sleeping, partly due to losing the payment system when Kagi went out of service in 2016 (see "Kagi Shuts Down After Falling Prey to Fraud", August 4, 2016). But Gideon has continued to write mainly web-based software, including Copyscape, a search engine for textual plagiarism used by millions; Web Sudoku, which gets 300,000 daily visits, and much more. Recently, he was founded and served as CEO of Coin Sciences, which develops the MultiChain blockchain platform.

Gideon moved from London to Tel Aviv, where he is now married and has three children, so long hunting through foreign lands is a thing of the past. However, he is still an Apple user, and as he travels for work today, he carries a svelte 11-inch MacBook Air. The MacBook Air only costs $ 1,000 when he bought it, compared to the $ 2,500 he spent on the PowerBook G3 in 1999 (almost $ 3,700 today) and at 2.38 pounds (1.1 kg) it is less than half the weight of the PowerBook G3s 5.9 pounds (2.7 kg). It is also noteworthy that he can still use a 7-year-old Mac, partly because of the performance and reliability of solid state storage over hard drives.

Gideon also commented that his iPhone 6s make internet access while traveling trivial, thanks to mobile data and a personal hotspot, although he sounded a little wistful when he said, "It would be nice if it was still OK to read and respond to email once a day. " Filling out the travel kit is a kind of Kindle that he loves partly because it gives access to a much wider range of English-language books than is available in Israeli bookstores.

For those looking for recommendations from a modern road warrior, our friend Khoi Vinh recently shared travel tips based on his experience while logging over 90,000 miles over 23 tours in 2018. And if nothing else, it might be interesting To do a revision of what you carry with you when traveling, as I did a few years ago in "Why Portable Bags Are So Heavy" (May 2, 2011).

What about you? Have you ever taken an epic tour with now old technology? What changes have you made thanks to advances in technology? Share your travel technologies in the comments!


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