Tag Archives: Android

Technology update. Smaller and better.

The last time I did some travel blogging was 2 years ago when I went to Japan for the first time. Back then I was using my Android tablet with an attached keyboard to write my posts and also to transfer my photos from my SD cards to my hard drive.

I ended up quitting blogging half-way through that trip as the entire process was a nightmare. The tablet was very slow, uploading and editing images was really hard and overall it took way too much time to complete a blog post. I still really appreciated having a way to backup my images but it was not feasible for blogging. Since then I’ve gone even more minimalist. I now travel with just my smartphone which I use for editing my photos and I also carry a card reader and a HDD but depend on the kindness of strangers to transfer my photos to my HDD. This has gone well so far but I never felt quite comfortable with the setup. For this trip I am taking a leap to try to do more blogging on the go and I’ve got a couple of gadgets that will hopefully help me achieve everything I want while not taking up too much space. My first addition to my setup is a Bluetooth keyboard. I bought a folding keyboard which I’ve paired up with my smartphone and I’ll be using that to blog on the go. I’m actually writing this whole article with this setup and it works a treat. This will let me write up my posts whenever I have a spare moment and is also so much more responsive than my old setup. The second issue I want to tackle is mobile backup. I’ve ordered a little gadget called the Ravpower Filehub. Ravpower is a company that is better known for its power banks but this nifty gadget does so much more. The main thing I want to use it for is to transfer files from my SD card to my portable hard drive.

This gadget has both an SD card reader and a USB port so I can use it to move files from one to the other without going through my phone. It also is a WiFi hub so I can read files and watch movies stored on the hard drive, it acts as a WiFi extender for bad connections, can turn hard point connections into wireless connections and so much more. Did I mention it also has a 6000 mA battery to charge my phone? I’m really excited to get this little piece of tech and start trying it out.

Mobile blogging using Android

When I was preparing for my trip to Nepal I decided not to take my laptop and opt instead for my trusty Asus Transformer Infinity tablet. I thought some of you may be interested in my experience in using only Android for blogging, photo editing and uploading pictures.

A year ago, I was looking to buy an Android tablet and wanted to get one that gave me more flexibility than the standard table does. I ended up picking up a second-hand Asus Transformer Infinity which met all my needs at the time. What makes the Transformer line of tablets different is the fact that they can be used either as a tablet or as a sort of ultrabook with the additional Keyboard attachment. The keyboard also contains and additional battery, a USB port and an SD card slot. All of these additions make it the ideal tablet for what I was planning on doing. As well as my tablet I took along an external hard drive which allowed me to back-up my pictures on the go.

TF700

Software

The Asus tablet works really well but the android version it came with was painfully slow. The first thing I did was unlock the tablet and install the excellent Cyanogenmod custom ROM. This removed a lot of unnecessary software from the tablet and made it much snappier. As I was only going to be using the tablet for blogging and didn’t want to have to experiment on the road I downloaded all the apps I would need before leaving. I used all free apps because I’m cheap. 🙂

For writing the blogs I used the free app from WordPress. It works well enough and allows you to store local copies of the posts which is useful for when you decide to write something up and have no wi-fi access. I did have some issues uploading pictures using the app but I will go into those in a bit.

To edit my photos I used the excellent Snapseed app. I cannot recommend it highly enough. It works great with Fuji JPEGs and allows you to work with 16 megapixel images with no downsizing. The only thing I wish they would add is the option to save to a different size as I ended up having to use a different app for that because the internet speeds in Nepal leave a lot to be desired.

To resize pictures I used an app called Photo Resizer. It worked well and allowed me to set a custom size for resizing my photos.

I used Antek Explorer to manage the transfer of files from my SD cards to my hard drive. I love this app as I can use a split screen and easily drag files from one folder to another.

Lastly, to preview and manage my images I used Quickpic. In my opinion this is the best image browser available today for Android, and it’s free! It also allows you to easily select multiple files and send them to another program. I could not have worked on my tablet without it.

Workflow

After a long day of exploring the first thing I would do is backup my images to my hard drive. This was really easy as all I had to do was plug in the hard drive to the USB port, insert my SD card and drag the files over using Antek file explorer. The transfer would take a while as I shoot in RAW – JPEG (around 30mb total per image)so I would normally do this before taking a shower or during dinner and leave it running. If I didn’t have time I could even leave this as the last step before going to bed.

Once this was done, I would get to writing my day’s post in WordPress. I don’t normally pic my images before I write up the post. I prefer to pic my images based on what would work best for the words I’m using. This was generally a pain-free process as the WordPress app is easy to work with.

Once I was done writing, I’d open up the photos I had taken that day in Quickpic and see which ones worked best with the blog post. Any pictures which were selected would be opened in Snapseed. This is really easy to do as in Quickpic, the steps are the same as if you were send them to Facebook or any other program. In Snapseed I would crop, correct white balance and other levels and save to a different folder. I would do the same steps for all the images and then resize them all in one go by using the Photo Resizer App.

Here I come to most painful part of the process which was adding the photos to the blog. Let me just say that for this the WordPress App sucks. I could never trust the app to upload the photos, would get constant errors and ended up with multiple copies of the image uploaded but none inserted into the post.This ended up driving me crazy and almost made me give up on the idea of mobile blogging.

What I ended up doing was to open the WordPress dashboard in Chrome and manually adding each image in one by one. This was painful with the slow speed internet we had and was a source of frustration most days. It was however the only way to be 100% sure that the files were added correctly. I think for my next trip I will create a secondary Flickr account and just add a link from there.

Conclusion

Using Android to blog on the go is perfectly doable with the right hardware. As new hardware comes out it will get easier and easier but right now there is no need to lug around a heavy and expensive laptop.

My good friends Claire and Maxence from WeShoesTheWorld (in French) are also using Android to blog their tour around the world so go check out what they are up to and see what’s possible. I hope this was interesting to you and please let me know below if you have any questions about my setup!