4 Days Left Till TwinF Becomes Frozen

By: leelefever on January 2, 2007 - 4:11pm

For the past year, TwinF has been our baby, our home, our object of interest and we are quickly approaching the day when we stop writing here.  In fact, we have decided to close the site this coming Saturday, January 6th - exactly one year from the day we left Hawaii for New Zealand.  From that point on it will be frozen in time - no new updates.  Between now and then, we plan to post lists of our favorite things - photos, videos, experiences, countries etc.  It should be fun.

It's a sad moment for us, really.  We have had such a great time with the site and it's connection to you as our online companion. It's hard to let go and I'll miss it, really and truly. The connection will end here, but it will sprout in other places, where we'll continue to live online in one form or another. 

For those of you who want to continue to keep up with us through my writing, photos, videos, etc., tune into Lee LeFever dot com.  I've already started blogging a little there and it will turn into our personal home on the Web.  In fact, I'm committing myself to posting one picture per day to the site for all of 2007.  Don't expect to be impressed on a daily basis. :)  

If you're interested in our consulting business, it has also come back out of "hibernation" to give our business a home on the web once again. See: Commmon Craft - Social Design for the Web

Again, keep an eye out for our favorites and other goodies coming your way soon. 

The Tangled Web We Weave

By: leelefever on November 21, 2006 - 3:01am


We are both continually amazed at how having this web site has connected us with people we would have otherwise never known.  Just a couple of nights ago, we had dinner with the sister of a friend’s former roommate, Maria.  I was asked her in an email how in the world she knew about us. Here is the connection…

Maria was a housemate with my long time friend JJ in Seattle (1999-2002).  We met a few times, but only at parties etc. A couple of years ago, JJ moved to S. Carolina and Maria lost touch, so she recently Googled him, hoping to make contact.  She then found a blog post from me about his wedding in 2003.  While reading about his wedding, she noticed a reminder that Sachi and I were traveling around the world and started reading TwinF.  Once she saw us reach Barcelona, she contacted her sister Camila, who got a group of her friends from business school to take us to their favorite local tapas bar in Barcelona’s Gracia neighborhood.  Though we only barely know Maria, the tiny connection was enough to help us make new friends in a foreign country. Thanks Maria and Camila!

If this wasn’t enough, Maria also reminded us that we help her brother too…

My brother Fernando and his wife printed out all your Thailand dispatches and read them on the plane to Thailand in early September.

Crazy. We both think it is pretty amazing that suddenly, because of blogs and the Internet that these sorts of connections are possible. What a world in which we live. What a world.

How We Do It Video: Blogging As We Travel

By: leelefever on November 17, 2006 - 2:40am

We've been asked many times about our process and technology for keeping this site updated regularly.  So, we decided to shoot a short video showing all the tools we use (hardware and software) and our process.  We're not sayng it's the best way - it's just how we do it.

In the video we mention a number of resources. Our camera is the Pentax Optio WP.  Our computer is the Sony VGN-T350.  This site runs on the Drupal platform, which is hosted and supported by Bryght.  Our graphic design was done by Rain City Studios. We share our photos using Flickr.  Oh, and the post we created on the video is here.

 This post doesn't account for the mobile blogging, where we use the Palm Treo 650 to send a picture and story to this site via Flickr.  Oh, and our video camera is the Sony DCR-PC 1000.

Reader Question: The Impact of Blogging on Travel

By: leelefever on October 21, 2006 - 8:26am

We recently received a nice email from Nath at Blue Fronier Media. Nath asks...

Firstly, how much has running this blog taken over the 'mission' that you guys have embarked upon?

Hi Nathan!
What a can of worms you have opened. We love talking about this stuff... Let's see...about the mission...

TwinF is a huge part of our experience - I am personally thinking about it all the time - usually in terms of what would make great content and where the next Web connection is going to come from (man, I sound like a junky). As for mission though - TwinF was part of the mission from the beginning. We saw it as an opportunity to travel and experiment at the same time. We had a hypothesis that a new type of travel is possible now because the Internet makes it so easy to collect information and meet new people. In testing this hypothesis, I get to learn new things for my work with Common Craft. So, we're very motivated to keep things rolling. I'd also say that our hypothesis has proven to be true - blogs and the Internet have enabled us to learn about places and meet people we never would have known otherwise. TwinF has helped us make our travel world much smaller and more localized. We call it the "Long Tail of Travel", if you're familiar with that idea.

Has it enriched the trip...something to keep you interacting with your world and -- in the case of a travel diary like yours perhaps -- ensuring that you keep engaging critically with what's going on around you; chasing the next post, as it were).

It's a double-edged sword. It is amazing to know that people are watching and are ready to help, but it's also intimidating sometimes. I honestly worry about looking like a rookie or saying something insensitive. Aside from that, the notion of sharing something on the web has pushed us into places and situations that we may not have pursued otherwise. The perfect example is eating weird things in Asia - that would not have been so fun without video and TwinF as a means to share it. Also, it has made us really think about how a place makes us feel because we want to be as authentic as possible. I have no regrets - I would say blogging has enriched more than detracted by a long shot.

Also, Member Travel Experiences along with comments and emails has enriched the trip immeasurably. We found some of our favorite spots by asking for advice from our readers.

Has it become a pain at times when you'd just rather blow TwinF off and be another hedonistic, aimless vagabonding vagrant?

I have a little voice in the back of my head that is constantly keeping track of the length of time between posts and sometimes it is a bit too loud. However, that voice is not specific to TwinF, I've heard it since my first blog and I'm used to it.

It is the administrivia that gets old... Finding a connection, uploading pictures, trying to use the mobile phone, dealing with comment spam, etc. If wifi was ubiquitous and the technology worked consistently, we would have no complaints.

Blowing off TwinF has never even been a possibility and I think we would both count it as a failure if we did. TwinF is a project that are both committed to seeing through to the end and I think we're lucky that we have such fun doing it.

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Tech Battles in Intl Mobile Blogging

By: leelefever on February 10, 2006 - 6:29pm

We often battle the technology gods in our quest for connectivity and blogability - it's part of our journey. Sometimes the gods are on our side, sometimes not so much.

Here a snapshot of a battle waged this morning - the outcome is undecided at this moment...

Start up laptop computer, load pictures from yesterday.

Review and save recent blog entry, written in Word.

Plug in USB pen drive, move pictures and post onto pen drive.

Shutdown computer, realize that blog post never made it onto pen drive. Crikey!

Notice that laptop battery is low and there's no time to charge.

Put pen drive in pocket for use in Internet Cafe, sans blog post.

Must make mobile phone (Treo 650) work in Australia - look up closest Vodafone store to buy pre paid SIM card.

Find store, get $10 SIM card, load with $30 of credit and register credit card for easy refills.

Call ahead to make tonights hotel res amid worries of effects of big rugby match.

Feel relief that phone works and hotel near stadium has room.

Test email via Treo. Bugger! Cannot connect - data plan (GPRS) costs extra and cust service is closed today.

Feel tinge of pain from not being able to blog/upload pics easily using Treo.

Note that SMS will work with pictures and test the network by writing an entry called "Tech Battles in Intl Mobile Blogging" to be posted to TwinF via Flickr using SMS.

Hope that messaging will do the trick.

Live to fight another day - and note to charge laptop at next stop.

Updated:  Yay!  The multimedia SMS or MMS (what Vodafone calls PXT) worked for blogging.  I can post to TwinF from my mobile using MMS which posts to Flickr (photo and entry), which posts to this site.  How cool.  The only thing cooler right now is that our hotel has FREE WIFI.  We were the hands-down victors in this battle.


Treo 650 for Mobile Blogging and Entertainment

By: leelefever on November 16, 2005 - 8:56pm

I've put a lot of time into trying to get the right gadgetry for the trip.  A couple of months ago, I got an unlocked Palm Treo 650.  Overall, I’m very happy with it and believe that I’ve made a good choice.  The big test will be how it does abroad.  One of our goals in packing for the trip is reducing size and weight and my goal was to get a device that packs as much punch as possible and sports a strong track record.

Test Driving A Mobile Device: Treo 650

By: leelefever on September 21, 2005 - 8:35am

After much research, surveying, questions, hemming and hawing, and overall learning more than I ever needed to know about international travel gadgetry, we have ordered a new device. It is a Palm Treo 650.

  We had to get an unlocked version, which means that it doesn't come with any built-in service like Cingular or T-mobile.  It's more expensive unlocked, but it's worth it.

In traveling internationally, the phone being unlocked is key because it means we aren't locked into one service or operator.  Instead, we can arrive in Thailand, for instance, and get a little prepaid card that fits in all phones that gives us a signal for that country/region. We aren't locked into any contracts.  See: Telestial

The dream is to have the ability to upload cameraphone pictures to this site (and Flickr) in real time. If we're looking at a reclining Buddha, we want you to see it too!  We're hoping the Treo and Prepaid SIM cards will do it economically.


Gadgetry Flip-Flopping

By: leelefever on September 16, 2005 - 8:02am

A while back I wrote about the search for gadgetry, where I was considering a DSLR Camera and laptop.  Thanks to advice in the comments and other places, I think we're going to start with the small gadgets.  So, I'm flip-flopping a bit.  For now, we're planning to take the point and shoot camera and a pocketPC/smartphone for our blogging needs.  For the heavy-duty site maintenance and picture uploading, we'd use Internet cafes.

I'm having a beer with Brian Fling of Mobile Design today to talk about the options in worldphones and blogging.  Here are some of the considerations for what I'm looking for:

  • Connect to a maximum of international providers (data and voice) –
  • Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE I imagine
  • Qwerty keyboard with possible folding full-size keyboard
  • SD card slot
  • WiFi
  • Email
  • Camera
  • Media Player for MP3s and Video
  • Unlocked

Here are some of the devices I'm considering...

I think it's time to start trying some out.  After talking to Brian I might have to pick something up this weekend to give it a try.  If anyone has any advice, please comment. 



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