New Forting Technology

I’m a great fan of the latest and greatest technology to support my forting websites but lately I’ve tried to moved from being an early adopter to being a smart adopter. Two recent changes have moved me forward on several fronts.

Panasonic DMC-ZS7

Panasonic DMC-ZS7

The first change was from my DSLR Canon Rebel Xti to a Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7 Compact Digital Camera. While this change may seem like a step backward, it has critical benefits. The first big plus is not having to carry a large digital camera, multiple lenses and a bag full of gear. The second big plus is not having to carry a separate digital video camera for HD video clips. The Panasonic DMC-ZS7 also brings brings some new technology that the Canon Rebel Xti doesn’t offer, like GPS location marking of each image and image stabilization. Some of technical specs on the Panasonic are not quite equal to the Canon but the shortfall is insignificant if you factor in the need to change lenses to achieve better specs and there are things like video and GPS that the Canon just doesn’t do.

The downsides of the Panasonic are 1) it does not have a viewfinder, 2) the GPS can consume battery life even with the camera off and 3) there is some visible distortion at max wide angle. The viewfinder issue is serious when you are shooting in bright sunlight and you can’t see the detail in the screen. You may just have to guess a bit when framing a shot, no big problem so far. You can beat the GPS battery issues by simply buying two extra batteries and keeping them all charged, cost was just $33 for both. Most of the time a single charged battery will last all day but I have had a couple of days when I had to go to a second battery, never had to go to the third. I can live with the max wide angle distortion and sometimes it makes the shot more interesting, giving a slight fish eye lens feel. You can always back off a bit and do very well. The Panasonic comes with a Leica Elmar lens, 25mm wide angle and 12x optical zoom, max 300mm focal length.

Verizon MiFi-2200 and My Business Card

Verizon MiFi-2200 and My Business Card

The second big change involved moving from the plug-in USB Verizon data card to the newer MiFi 2200 Intelligent Mobile Hotspot. I have to have good connectivity while on the road because I update and maintain and on a daily basis. The original USB device could only be plugged into one computer at a time and could not connect our iPhones. Amy and I had to share the card and that tended to disrupt both our workflow. The MiFi 2200 is a small device that can be carried anywhere, operated either by rechargeable batteries or AC adapter. It can connect up to five devices at a time to the internet. Our 2 MacBook Pros, 2 iPhones and our WiFi Brother printer make a tidy little network in our RV. The amazing thing is that all this works while we are underway and the Verizon connectivity is awesome. AT&T connectivity in the western US stinks and we are seriously thinking of ditching our iPhones for new Verizon Droid Incredibles.

There is one possible downside but so far it has not been a problem. There is a limit of 5 GB per month on the best Verizon data plan and this clearly prohibits anything like video streaming. So far on our travels we have not used over 3 GB in any month.

So far both technology changes have worked well for us, improving our productivity and making our lives simpler.


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