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August 19, 2008 at 10:08 pm #604
What’s been your experience using MP3 music players (such as iPods) at either Pole or out on the east plateau? I want to take mine to AGAP S, but know that some can have problems because they use hard drive based storage.
Many of the larger capacity/older iPods use a micro drive that requires a certain amount of air pressure in order to create an “air bearing” that allows the read/write drive head to float above the disk surface. These iPods have an official elevation limit of 3,000 meters. Smaller capacity iPods use RAM chips for memory and should not be affected by the elevation (basically, no moving parts are used for storage).
I know that computer hard drives (laptop/desktop) can also be affected by elevation for the same reason. Is this a problem at Pole and the surrounding area? Do laptop computers work OK out there?
A separate issue is battery life–which will always be reduced due to the extremely cold conditions. That problem is not difficult to solve–I’ll just need lots of back-up rechargeable batteries and a warm pocket inside my jacket.
-=CHAugust 20, 2008 at 1:07 am #5913thepooles98Keymaster
I solved the problems by sticking with a flash card player that runs on regular batteries. It means making the playlists in advance but you can bring numerous cards with a different playlist on each. 2mb of music is more than I can listen to in a day and I can change the list as often as I like. I have some hundreds of gigs of music on a hard drive that stores the bulk of my stuff, so it doesn’t fit on the IPODs anyway. Downside–2mbs isn’t a lot if you want to change on the run.
The hard drive versions need higher power and lithium batteries to keep them going. Hard to deal with on 24 hour flights or traveling to places you can’t recharge the built in batteries for days on end. The flash drive units run forever on standard batteries available anywhere in the world. AA and AAA rechargeables are easy to find as well. Here at the park, I’m always getting visitors begging me to allow them to recharge dead camera batteries while I’m putting on my evening programs. I want to tell them to think about power before you buy your appliance next time.
August 20, 2008 at 2:16 am #5914
Thanks for the info. I think I’ll take my iPod Nano which is solid state. That way I can avoid the potential hard drive problems. I think I will still take my laptop for storage, word processing, image editing, etc. I also have a tiny solar battery charger that will recharge the iPod and camera batteries. I’ll try the memory card trick for storing music. Great idea!
-=CHAugust 20, 2008 at 4:57 am #5915m0lochKeymaster
on the question about laptops at Pole etc….short answer is they work ok, but hard drives do have a shorter lifespan….and my laptop runs much hotter….I guess due to the reduced air pressure and resultant smaller volume of cooling air.
another factor is static electricity….a lot of computers get inadvertently rebooted due to a static shock when touching the mouse….a film crew lost one of their cameras a couple years ago due to static shock.
on keeping the battery warm….if you were to use a handwarmer to keep your batteries warm….you wouldn’t be the first
I’ve also heard of LCDs freezing up – but never seen it…the one on my watch seems to do fine and it sees a lot more cold than my ipod or camera ever do.
generally speaking, Antarctica is pretty hard on (hehe hardon) electronic gadgets…August 20, 2008 at 6:03 am #5916SciencetechKeymaster
LCDs will freeze but it’s becoming less of an issue with modern devices. If the older ones freeze bad enough it can destroy some of the pixels or even the whole screen. I’ve had my DSLR cold-soaked at -60F but the screen still worked okay. The LCD status display on top of the camera became really sssslllluuuuggggiiiisssshhhh.
As much as the environment, just taking these things with you to far-flung places subjects them to a lot of abuse. I’ve seen quite a few dropped PDAs (screens shattered) and laptops, several corroded lenses (from condensation inside), and several *melted* laptops. I’ve dropped my DSLR twice… Only the filter saved it both times, they tend to drop lens-down.August 25, 2008 at 1:55 am #5917Nomadic-MedicMember
A note about DSLR’s and such. I had good luck with my D70 while on the Ice at many locales, including Pole. I did notice some people’s digital camera’s LCD screens getting funny colored perma-pixels and/or “cracks” on them, or failing altogether. I still like the idea of a regular viewfinder if the LCD fails, and also because the LCD sucks more power from your battery. Video functions and long viewings of your photos on the LCD also take a serious pull on the battery. Hand warmers on the camera are used by many, as noted above, especially in the colder areas, like Pole. They work. Just make sure you get handwarmers that aren’t already dead when you grab them out of the box! I also kept my camera tucked inside my parka when it was really cold, and only brought it out for quick shots, and then got it back in my coat ASAP. I prefer the fancy camera batteries (with a back-up in a warm pocket closer to my skin), but you can’t beat regular old AA or AAA batteries and a charger (I dig your solar charger – right on!) if you will not have regular and dependable AC power. I took a small point & shoot as a back-up and for when I didn’t want to lug the bulkier SLR.
Music player. I support the idea of taking your music on your computer, and then using a solid state player you can put tunes on for mobile music. I have a hard drive style iPod that did fine, but I wouldn’t risk it again – I know of a few people’s iPods who died on the Ice. They were sad.
Also, don’t forget to back all of your computer stuff up on something that you leave at home, in case your computer dies (my old Dell died halfway through my last season on the Ice; thus the new MacBook).
For storage that goes with you to the Ice, I really like the small, USB powered external hard drives by Iomega. No need to lug a power supply, they’re small, and hold tons of data.
My MacBook worked fine at Pole. The most damaging experience my laptop had was at McM when I dropped a small external computer speaker on it. It’s a harsh continent, but evidently I’m harsher when it comes to electronics.August 25, 2008 at 8:32 am #5918
I have a D-70 as well (not a D-70s) and it has survived over 4 years of fairly rugged use. I’m still considering taking it and a smaller Fuji S1000 camera as a backup (or I might take the S1000 and a Fuji S700 as a backup–both good cameras that use standard AA batteries, SD cards, and are pretty darned tough to boot). I’ve decided to take my iPod Nano and Shuffle simply because neither one uses a hard drive for memory (and they’re tiny). I will also take my Dell D420 laptop, again because it is very small and has held up quite well on the road. Everything will be packed in a Pelican case for protection during transport. I hope it lasts through this season and, with luck, many more seasons to come.
Thanks to everyone for the tips and suggestions!
-=CHAugust 26, 2008 at 9:16 pm #5919
I know that I will need to have anti-virus/malware/spyware software installed on my computer in order to take it to the Ice (in addition to all updates and patches).
I am currently using Win XP Pro Service Pack 3 with AVG anti-virus, SpyBot S&D, AdAware, Spyware Blaster, A-Squared, and SnoopFree. This combination of applications provides very strong protection and they all coexist nicely together. Some are set to update automatically while others require manual updating.
Does RPSC/NSF require that certain brands of software be used in order to connect to the network or does my arrangement of apps seem like it will do the job? What are other people using on their systems?
-=CHAugust 26, 2008 at 9:47 pm #5920thepooles98Keymaster
Atlas can answer better, but to the best of my knowledge there are not any antivirus programs that have been deemed unsuitable.
August 26, 2008 at 10:00 pm #5921
Sounds good. I’ll check with Atlas and see what he has to say.August 26, 2008 at 10:34 pm #5922SciencetechKeymaster
AVG should be fine. That’s a good combo of tools, I use most of the same. Unless the standards have changed, any AV product was fine (Atlas would know for sure). When I was working for IT on the vessels, if someone didn’t have an antivirus program on their laptop we’d offer to install AVG on it for them.August 26, 2008 at 11:56 pm #5923Been_ThereMember
Do you have a Camp Manager yet?
BTAugust 26, 2008 at 11:58 pm #5924MightyAtlasModerator
AVG will work fine. A new version of the free AVG just came out a few months ago. Just be sure all of your DATs are up-to-date, and you’ll be fine.
aAugust 27, 2008 at 2:56 am #5925
Thanks for the info. Good to hear I’ve got it covered. Everything is current and I update databases daily. Look like my machine is ready to go–just as long as I don’t accidentally drop it somewhere during transit…August 27, 2008 at 3:11 am #5926
No camp manager yet as far as I know. Everything appears to be on hold right now due to the budget. I can empathize with the hiring manager because that person’s hands are tied as well. Everyone seems to be waiting to get the “final final” word on funding. I’m still waiting to get my official contract from HR (so far just a verbal and email offer, but no official paperwork) and ticket to Denver for training that takes place two weeks from now (I don’t know if RPSC Travel usually makes travel arrangements this close to departure time). I assume those items are also waiting on the budget. And, so, I continue to wait…
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