May 1, 2012: Laptop Success, Mobile Phone Failure

Here we are in May.  The month that we have been looking forward to since last August when we decided to take our long vacation.  The time has really flown.  This seemed so far away and now we are scrambling to be ready.  We leave Texas a week from tomorrow!

I ordered a new laptop today.  I have been working off of the same laptop for a few years now and while it is perfectly fine it is a bit large for backpacking through Europe and the battery doesn’t have nearly the life that I would hope that it would anymore.  It was from a different era.  Not old enough to justify replacing normally but old enough that something new would sure be nice.  Well the right set of circumstances came up and I have a new HP Folio 13 on order.  The Folio 13 is widely regarded as one of the, if not the, best ultrabook (very small notebook but more full featured than a netbook) on the market.  Aluminum casing, solid state drive, low power, long battery life, backlit keyboard – all of the things that a hard core traveler needs.

I came home at lunch and ended up working from home all afternoon because I needed to deal with getting the new Folio.  I got the order finalized around three and picked it up at the warehouse at four.  I got it home and Dominica was very relieved to see how much smaller this new laptop is than the old one and how much lighter and more rigid.  She has been working like crazy on all of the packing to get us ready for the trip and every ounce matters and every inch as well.  Things are tight and we have nothing to spare.  It is going to be really hard carrying all of this stuff as we don’t have a car in Europe.

My first impression of the new Folio is that it is awesome.  A full size keyboard but no wasted space.  Light and easy to carry.  This is going to be so much better.  We have to live off of this thing for two months as our only computing device.  Having it be as usable as possible is critical.

My next task this afternoon was to figure out what we are going to do about a phone while in Europe.  We have been planning all along to just get a loaner phone from Verizon, which we had been told that we could do when we first got our current iPhone 4 and Droid X which are not international phones.  We had hoped that Dominica’s phone might be up for renewal soon enough so that we could just get a new iPhone 4S instead of getting a loaner phone.

Well, nothing goes to plan.  I called Verizon and Dominica is not eligible for renewal until June 19th – the very end of our trip abroad.  So that does not work at all.  Argh.  So we had to resort to getting a loaner phone.  Ah, but there is a catch.  We called for the loaner phone and it turns out that that is not available unless your trip is only roughly three weeks, or less, in length.  That’s not going to work.  Uh oh.  What to do now.

Now we are in a panic.  The only options from Verizon are ones we can’t accept – better to drop our plans than to do what they suggest (agree to two more years on an Android that isn’t reliable.)  We talked to Sprint and it sounds like they might be an option.  Buying a phone in Europe when we step off of the plane might be an option as well.  Hard to say.  We are brainstorming.  This isn’t good. We thought that we were doing well for the trip but suddenly we have reintroduced panic back in.

For dinner we went to Brookhaven and sat outside for kids night.  We stayed until the girls were exhausted and they both were pretty much asleep by the time that we got back home.



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