A tech geek's trip from hell

I'm on a trip right now out of the country, and so far it's been a tech geek's trip from hell.

The first day, I ran my iPhone 5 (running iOS 7 beta 2) out of juice -- not surprising, since the beta OS is somewhat power-hungry at this point. Guess what? The iPhone 5 has decided to refuse to start up normally. It has gone into a continuing loop of trying to start up, then rebooting, ad infinitum. Sad, really -- I was planning on shooting a ton of panoramas with the iPhone 5, and I took some wonderful photos from the airplane on the way over. My only choice with this device is to wait until I get back home and then reload the device with a fresh image of iOS 7. Sigh. At least I have my wife's iPhone as a backup for shooting those panoramas.

Day two, spouse and I -- both avid photographers -- spent most of the day shooting images of the beautiful Icelandic countryside. Our usual nighttime habit while we're on our trip is to back up the day's photos onto two iPads so that we have the originals on each camera plus two backups. So, while sitting in the lounge at the hotel tonight, I started doing the backups only to find that the Camera Connection Kit wouldn't read either of the 64 GB SDXC cards.

After cussing loudly (don't worry, the lounge was empty except for my wife and me), I did a Google search to find that the Camera Connection Kit won't read SDXC cards unless they're formatted in the time-honored and ancient FAT format. Of course, I assumed that formatting the cards in the camera like I've always done would mean they'd be readable by Apple's Camera Connection Kit. Wrong! So, the 64 GB cards are now back in my bag full of camera goodies, and a pair of 16 GB cards -- SDHC -- have been drafted into service for the rest of the trip.The photos we took today will have to wait until we get back home to be moved to some sort of backup media.

In addition, I discovered today that although I brought a variety of charging cables on the trip with me, as well as a device or two to allow me to plug multiple devices into one outlet, I had neglected to grab my European to North American plug adapters. Last night was fine, as I had a fully-charged external battery pack that I used to charge up one iPad and also had one North American standard outlet that I could use to charge up another. Tonight? All of the devices will be hungry for electrons. At least the airline we're flying, Icelandair, has USB chargers built into the seats so we'll be able to charge the devices on the next leg of our trip. Knowing my luck so far, they won't be working.

I was happy to see that the hotel had a publi- use iMac near the lobby; my smile turned to a frown when I discovered that they were running Windows 7 under Boot Camp on the machine. After finding that I couldn't access the iMac's SD card reader from Windows 7 (I was going to upload the photos to Dropbox), I reached around to the back of the machine, powered it down, and rebooted in the hope that I could get it to boot into OS X. No such luck; the hotel IT people had set up the machine with a password. My revenge was leaving the iMac unusable to any of the other guests. Mua-haha!

Your takeaways from this post? Never assume that your technology is going to work perfectly for you when you need it the most. Read the fine print about the Apple (and third-party) hardware you'll be using, and using the jargon used by my wife in the aerospace business, "test like you fly." In other words, test all of the component parts exactly the way you expect to use them before you actually leave home -- that way you'll be able to avoid issues like the one I ran into with the Camera Connection Kit. I just assumed that because I had formatted SD cards in my camera before and used them successfully with the CCK, that everything would be OK. That was a stupid assumption.

Also, create a packing checklist and use it. I would have remembered the plug adapters if I had put them on a list. I fully intended to grab them, but got caught up in the typical last-minute packing rush and spaced them out.

Finally, if you're not a tech blogger / writer by trade, consider leaving as much of your tech at home as you can. You'll certainly be immune from stupid annoyances like I've run into if you don't have a lot of technology accompanying you on a trip. And isn't a vacation supposed to be a relaxing time away from the normal hassles of life? I'm going on a three-day long weekend trip at the end of the summer, and I think I may just go with nothing but a good paperback book.