Here is the challenge: web work on a bike tour. Here are the problems: You need Adobe PhotoShop and you don’t want to bring a laptop on a bike, if you did, you would probably wreck your laptop’s hard drive in one day on bumpy roads. Plus, my MacBook laptop is too heavy for bike travel and the possibility of losing it to thief would be a big loss.
My computer travel solution is to bring just my digital files with me on a SSD Solid State hard drive. You’ve probably seen the small so-called “pin drives” that are easy to carry around in your pocket. A SSD drive is the ultimate rugged hard drive; as it has no moving parts (only transistors), unlike a spinning disk used in SATA hard drives. The Apple Mac Book Air is a laptop with a solid state SSD drive, but still the Air is too big for my bike’s trunk bag and my goal is to bike tour with only 5 pounds of gear.
So when I need to work on my web files on the road, I need to first find another Mac. This is going to require using my host’s Mac or going to an Internet cafe that has Macs on-site. I connect my SSD drive via a USB cable to any borrowed Mac and because my SSD drive already as an installed Mac Operating System on it, I can reboot off that existing system on the Transcent drive. When the borrowed Mac relaunches, hold down the option key and wait for the Startup Manager to appear, then I select my SSD Transcend drive. Once the selected system is booted, all my necessary work applications (Adobe Web Studio apps and Microsoft Office apps), and my clients website files will be available on the borrowed Mac.
SSD drives are not common place yet because they are relatively expensive per GB of memory compared to cheaper SATA (spinning) drives. I found that I could include all my work files on a 64GB Transcend Drive. The current Mac Snow Leopard OS requires about 6GBs to install, my applications require an additional 14GBs, and my client web site files requires an additional 24GBs for a total of 44GBs. This leaves me with about 20GBs for backing up my recent trip photos. I do not have enough space on the Transcend drive to include all my music or photo files, so they are left off this travel drive.
A MacBook weights about 5 pounds and would be difficult to pack anywhere on my touring bike. A 64GB Transcend SSD drive weights 7 oz and has the dimensions of 1.8″ by 3″ and costs $250 at Amazon (March 2010). The SSD drive allows me to have all my work files and software, but keep my laptop at home.