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in It's a digital world, op 11/06 door | 10 comments

The GF-1 — my camera for travelling / nomadic lifestyle

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As a photographer, people often ask me my opinion on camera’s.
Any camera is a good camera’ is a fairly accurate statement these days*.
So, giving good advice on cameras isn’t easy— it always depends on what you want to do with it.

I personally love the idea of ‘The best camera is always the one you have with you’; and for this reason, I like the portability of camera phones**. Many phones now have sufficient resolution for nice snapshots and small prints. But the quality is often what I don’t like — and they absolutely suck in low light.

I have a Nikon D700 myself, and while it is the best camera I’ve ever used, I hate the weight. I hate the fact that after only half-an-hour or so, my neck starts to hurt. And although the quality is stunning, I hate dragging it around on trips.

So, I started looking for something portable that gave me similar quality to a DSLR and would be equally wonderful to take along on trips. It turned out to be a difficult search.***

I tried the Canon G7, and hated it. The DOF sucked and low light performance was awful. I read dozens of reviews, and every camera lacked something. Most of all, I wanted good DOF. I was tempted to buy the Panasonic LX-3, because of the number of good reviews I had read about it. But I didn’t like the way it worked; I wanted the possibility of a ‘manual’ mode. So I waited with baited breath until the GF-1 was released.

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in On the road, op 07/06 door | 2 comments

Save on your flights: choose low-budget carriers

590002366_0dee41b326While we would definitely opt for a travel agency for the long-hauls, inland or even continental flights often are often cheaper on low-budget carriers.

In Belgium, we happen to have Brussels Airlines, with loads of promotions.
Ryanair and Sunjets also tend to offer crazy prices, going as low as €0.01 for a flight (without taxes).
There are some disadvantages, of course: no money back guarantees, extra charges for luggage, on-board food and drink is never free, lack of leg-space, and often the airports are not really ‘big hubs’, but rather small airports away from the center.

Yet, for short flights, low-budget carriers do the job; and they do it well.

Here’s a list of low-budget carriers we found worldwide:
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in DIY Nunomads Guide, op 12/05 door | 1 comment

Our presentation on BGGD29

As promised we’re posting our presentation on BrusselsGirlGeekDinner on this site.
Hope you enjoy it!

Find it on Slideshare or Issuu
If you like it, vote for it!

in Preps, op 14/04 door | 2 comments

What’s in the suitcase?

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Luggage spread around the room.

Ha! THE question on everyone’s lips: What do you take along?
How do you fit your life into three suitcases? I even thought of posting a thread on it, asking all kinds of people to show their suitcases… just out of curiosity. It’s one of those things you tend to forget about, and then in the end, just days before leaving, it’s there in front of you, and you’re thinking ‘Shit!’

In our case, things got even worse. We had four brand new bags, two easy rollers, one big bag, and one tiny weekend bag that might come in handy on shorter trips while abroad. But suddenly, just two days before we left, I noticed that ‘you’re allowed to take one big suitcase, and two pieces of hand luggage’

At that moment, we had two pieces of luggage each, one item of hand baggage, plus a camera bag.

A reason to start panicking…

We managed to get it all into three bags (one of them became hand-luggage) and squeeze the cameras and computers into two of these instead of one on its own.
But that’s another story.

Here’s a list of our stuff. Read the rest of this entry »

in Lifehacking, On the road, op 29/03 door | schrijf een comment

Meeting the locals

locals

There is no better way to discover a country than through the locals.
These days, luckily for us, this is facilitated by technology.
Rather than going to a bar to search out interesting characters, we are now able to find them on the web.
One of the wonderful things that I remember coming out of Photoblog*, was that people from all over the world were talking about one common interest (photography), sharing experiences, and very often also ending up meeting each other in real life on the other side of the world.

There are many sites you can visit when in search of people to meet; these are some which have worked well for us:

Couchsurfing : You can find locals that are willing to offer a couch/bed for a night. There are also plenty who are into ‘coffee’, who would be glad to have a drink with you and talk about the ‘ins and outs’ of their country.
Catherine is really into meeting these interesting characters, and we have already made some great friends this way.

Twitter : Whilst Twitter is a good place to follow (often geeky) friends you already know, if used well, you can also discover great new people there.
This is what I did. I opted to install Echofon (for its ease of use) but any twitter client will do – even the twitter site itself. You search on #hashtags (yes, those little #’s in front of keywords). It’s a bit like googling keywords but the ‘search results’ are always active twitters. From these, I check profiles to see who might be interesting to follow. After following, tweeting back and forth, and chit-chatting for a while, you might want to arrange to meet each other.
We searched for ‘#CapeTown’, followed a few people, acquired some followers of our own, and eventually met some of them. This resulted in some wonderful evenings and great stories.

Flickr : Although this site is primarily about ‘photography’, and nothing to do with ‘meeting people’ as such, very often these are the best places to find like-minded people from all over the globe. Just like on Photoblog, Flickr members comment on each others’ pictures, and quite apart from being simply a photo site, there is definitely a vast array of ‘micro-communities’ within the site.

In fact, any community site would probably work just as well. If you like wine, for instance, why not try to find like-minded locals on a wine-sharing site? In this day and age, each and every community has its own virtual, border-crossing counterpart online.

How do you, as location independents, manage to find your locals? Let us know by leaving a comment.

*I was one of the founders of Photoblog.net. These days, it is a blog. Back then, it used to be a platform just like Flickr is now (though admittedly with less features :) ), but before Flickr even existed!

in It's a digital world, On the road, op 09/03 door | 1 comment

Sony e-reader, perfect book for nu-nomads

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When on the road and living out of one or two bags, minimizing what you take can be one of the biggest challenges.

We managed to get our stuff into three bags, although this was only achieved after rearranging our luggage at least twice…. One way is to throw stuff out, another is to find the best solution. No-one would think of bringing a portable CD player and CDs any more, whereas everyone would gladly take an iPod or mp3 player.

One way to limit your luggage is by tossing things out; another way is to think efficiently and look for the best possible solutions. After all, no one in their right mind will think of packing a portable cd-player and a selection of compact discs. Instead of that, it’s a no-brainer to reach for your iPod or mp3-player. And while it may not come to mind immediately, there is a similar solution when it comes to the books you want to read while traveling.

For books, an e-reader would seem to be a similar type of solution. I admit that taking the e-reader was Catherine’s idea; “We’ll save tons by taking this one device”. I wasn’t convinced; I like reading books – real books. But I had to admit that my ‘paper’ versions added a lot of weight and volume to the luggage, especially when you consider you’re only allowed to take one suitcase along.

So when our friends at Sony offered us one to test, Catherine jumped with joy, while I was secretly happy that I’d have the chance to test such a device. Now I’m totally convinced and I don’t miss the paper at all. “Convinced” as in ‘Catherine didn’t get the chance to read on the e-reader yet as it’s in my hands all the time’. Some forty-two books came along, and I have already devoured two of them.

I think of it as the iPod for books. (I know Apple is featuring the iPad for this, but I’m not convinced the iPad is really the best device for reading.) Sony offered us the Touch Reader. In fact we had to choose between the Pocket version and the Touch, and I chose the Touch because, being used to an iPhone, I was convinced I’d try to touch the screen all the time.

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in DIY Nunomads Guide, Nunomads, op 26/02 door | schrijf een comment

Lifestyledesign: not the easy way.

Don’t let them fool you. Contrary to what some books and sites may tell you, lifestyle design isn’t an easy task – it’s not just about having the guts.
So let’s presume you do have the guts …… now comes the hard bit – making your dreams a reality. For us, that meant going Location Independent for (at least) a year.

“Cool !”, I hear you say. Yes, indeed – but think again. It also means renting out the house, selling the car and preparing clients. Somebody posted a comment in a previous post, “….isn’t ‘nomadic’ about just packing, leaving and coming back when you run out of money?”

Sometimes I wish it was. The lifestyle we’re opting for isn’t about that. In fact, our main objective is to come back with at least as much money as when we left – and preferably more. In particular, unlike when travelling, we’ll actually be living in a different place; renting an apartment, doing the shopping, cooking and working. This is quite different to a holiday.
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in It's a digital world, op 17/02 door | 1 comment

Internet around the globe: iPass and TelenetConnect tested

telenet1One of the things that worried us the most when leaving for a year of  location independence was the internet.
We tried our best to choose locations which had reliable internet access, but I have to admit that South Africa wasn’t giving us good vibes.

Did our destinations have high speed internet available? And if so, was it affordable? Thailand didn’t pose any problems, as we found out in September, nor will Argentina. But South Africa was worrying us. We got two opposing kinds of report. People saying the speed was fine, and others saying it was amazingly slow…

There is the great story of the pigeon; a company tried to send 512mb over the internet, and at the same time released a pigeon with a USB stick. It turned out that the pigeon was the faster….
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in Preps, Thoughts, op 14/02 door | schrijf een comment

About leaving…

We have been preparing this trip for months, and now this crazy journey is becoming a reality.
Crazy? Yes! The last month has been crazy. While many of our clients already knew we’d be leaving, some of them really wanted us to have certain jobs finished before we left. Utterly crazy, as we had to prepare all kinds of stuff for this trip: vaccinations, administrative stuff, emptying the house, booking trips, and seeing family before we left…
While I really planned on doing things differently, in a more relaxed way, it turned out to be one of the heftiest months I’ve ever had. And I think Catherine feels the same. (Remind me, if we do this a second time, to quit working two weeks before we leave, and not to tell anybody! We tried something similar, but only took four extra days – four days is not enough…)

So last week we were sitting on a plane. Yes, there were some glitches; unfinished work, things not packed or forgotten, and stuff that “‘still needs to be taken care of” by our mums… But the plane didn’t drop out of the sky, and we were gone :)

We definitely need this break. After running a crazy two years, both of us need some inspiration. Both of us need time for ourselves. Some people wonder if we are running away from something. I don’t believe we are. We’re running towards something, not away.

I can only speak for myself, but this ‘running’ is the only option I see to get myself  ‘focused’. The fact that the internet will not be ‘active’ all the time, is a hard way to teach myself to disconnect; or to realize how addicted I am. :)
I love Gwenn Bell’s post on ‘unhooking from the email box‘. And while she’s writing about how to achieve it, I’m happy that the first two weeks of our journey were “internet-poor”. I’d rather opt for cold turkey, and hopefully, the unbearable withdrawal symptoms will have gone by the time we arrive in Cape Town.  ‘Checking mails twice a day’ will be the default setting.

I admit that unhooking is a lot easier in a beautiful, sunny country than in a rainy, snowy and cold country such as Belgium is right now. :)

I hope this environment gives me the strength to set my goals well; to focus on the stuff I want to do, rather than trying to run before I can walk.
I want to “learn to walk” again, to see what’s around me, to breath, to take pictures, to behold… and then spend time on the projects I carefully select, and make the absolute best of them.
I really want to grow in my work. Somehow, I had the feeling that while the business was growing, I wasn’t able to take time to develop my skills, and enhance my output. For both myself and my clients.

This is what the year will be all about; finding a balance between personal life and professional life. I’m absolutely sure the result will be the best possible for everybody; for us, for our family and friends, and for our clients, who’ll get more than before.

in It's a digital world, op 31/01 door | schrijf een comment

A local number worldwide: VOIP does the trick.

3022339998_921a370972One of the things I feared a bit before leaving was losing communication with clients. Back in Belgium, the simplest way to communicate was by phone, followed by email and in person. The last option wasn’t possible anymore, the second remained, and the first, well…..that would become an very expensive solution. At least that was what I thought at first… Read the rest of this entry »