Travelblogue: experimental results

So I’ve just finished my first experiment with blogging a vacation. It was rewarding for me, but there are a bunch of things that could have gone better.

I didn’t deal correctly with the days I lacked network access. I should have been writing the text for those days locally on my machine for later posting; writing it a couple of days after the fact is not good because I tend to forget details and allow “future” events to shade my phrasing.

Making a post takes a lot longer than I expected; I could barely manage one per evening, and that meant there was no way I could catch up with my backlog until I got home. Writing the text is the easy part; even with proofing end editing that takes less than an hour. It’s assembling the other media (maps and photos in my case) that takes a lot of time. For the maps, my GPS logs had a lot of redundant data in them so I wanted to trim some of that out before posting to make the embedded maps in my posts more responsive. For the photos, many of my posts included stitched panoramas and I was also doing some HDR and timelapse movie experiments, and all that processing takes time. Even without that, locating the best photos to post out of hundreds per day takes time.

And there were plain old computer problems, too. Google Earth’s path editor sucks. I need a better tool for editing my GPS tracks. Autostitch frequently barfs when I try to create panoramas; I can’t really blame it given what it is, but I haven’t found a better tool yet. And since my laptop only has half a gig of memory, it’s common for Autostitch to spend hours chewing on one panorama, and flipping though my photos to find ones to post is also a slow process.

The software problems were exacerbated by the laptop touchpad; ignoring the secondary mouse button, there are four things you do with a mouse: move the cursor, click, double-click and drag. Since my muscular control is not perfectly precise, the touchpad generates random combinations of these four actions whenever I try to move the cursor or drag something. That makes mouse-based editing work really frustrating and also creates errors. I really want to find one of these or something similar to use instead, but they seem to be hard to find.

So, my takeaway lessons from this are:

  1. Avoid falling behind. Always write the text (and if possible, choose the pictures) the day of, even if there’s no network access to actually post them. Posting existing content after the fact is less of a sin than writing the content after the fact.
  2. Get a better laptop and a better pointing device. A lot of my workflow frustration would have been alleviated if I could have worked at my normal pace without introduced errors and long waits.
  3. Get better software. Life is too short to put up with software that sucks. In particular I need GPS manipulation software, panorama stitching software, HDR compositing software, image->movie conversion software, and fast slideshow or light table software.

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