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A Bit About the Technology and the Day When Things Are Huge

Today, I’m going to talk a but about the technology we have here with us as there were number of questions about it in the comments. Moreover, only thanks to the stack of cables and various “gadgets” are we able to send the daily updates so you can read them here. My apologies who’re not very fond of technology :-)
A Bit About the Technology and the Day When Things Are Huge

We almost didn’t make it yesterday, our batteries got low and we were lucky to even send the message. It was partly due to problems with our big camcorder (we have 2 with us), We wanted to download the “400th km Video” so we could send it to you. For some reason we were not able to connect the camcoder with the laptop. It took us an hour to solve the problem which meant that we used up more energy than we’d planned. Vasek thought that there’s something wrong with the laptop but as we have a Mac here with us, I was sure it cannot be in the laptop - nothing can ever be wrong with Mac! (I’m a big Mac fan, so to speak :-) Of course, it was the USB cable that didn’t work. Once we tried another one, everything was OK. Not only did it cost us energy but also an hour of sleep which was probably even worse... We now have the alarm clock set at 5.30 a.m. every day which is quite tough if you get to bed at 1 a.m...

We have 3 special batteries with us, one for each solar panel. If there’s a sunny day, we charge them up to 80 % of their capacity. That’s enough to charge the laptop, satellite modem and 2 iPods in the evening and we still have some energy left for the following day. So far, we’ve been also able to make and send a short video now and then as well as download, and process at least one photo a day and send it to the web. To provide you with some specific info about the hardware - we use MacBook Air (128 GB, solid-state drive, 2 GB) and the satellite modem operates under the Immarsat network. As for the software - we use OS Snow Leopard, iWork and iLife tools and to process the photos I use Aperture. I also have Photoshop here but I’ve used it only once so far.

To make the videos we use an HD Camcorder Panasonic HDC-TM300 or small GoPro camcorder. We use the small one to make short videos and shoot unexpected events. The Panasonic camcorder we use to shoot things which we then want to use in the documentary movie about the expedition. We also have 2 cameras with us - small and handy Sony camera (which we haven’t used so far) and a big Nikon D700 which I use to take all the pictures. I took 2 lenses (50 mm and 17-35 mm) from which I also use only one, the latter :-)

We have to carry all the batteries in our pockets close to our bodies during the day so they won’t get too cold. They (the batteries :-) also sleep with us in our sleeping bags in order to stay warm. If we didn’t give them this special treatment, they would be unchargeable after only few days here. I really “enjoy” messing with the battery to my Nikon - every time I want to take a picture, I have to take the battery out of m pocket, put it in the camera, take the picture, remove the battery and put it back in the pocket... The battery first, then my fingers :-) The cameras are the only things which we leave outside in the sleds. It breaks my heart to leave them outside but it gets very humid in the tent which would kill the cameras - a water would condense on every tiny metal piece inside of the camera which would then froze again and I’m afraid that would be the end for the cameras. The computer deals with the humidity in the tent every day but we find time to warm it up a but before we take it from the cols inside of the “warm” tent. Other things like GPS and batteries don’t mind the wetness that much.

Well, that’s all about the technology for today :-)

Now, I should provide some summary of what we did today. For the first time we felt like being in Russia - in a huge country where everything is huge as well... It started with unbelievably “hugely” cold morning (which is not as unusual :-). Then we walked across huge areas of smooth ice, occasionally crossing huge cracks. Anyway, thanks to the huge fields of ice, we managed to another “30” today... As we originally planed to walk 25 km a day max, we’re rather excited about covering more almost every day! It seems that we might reach the other side of the lake sooner then we expected! Exciting!!!

Thank you for your encouraging comments. Keep your fingers crossed for us as we’re getting close to the end!!

Pavel

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