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Mobile Blogging: My Portable Blog Writing Kit

Nokia n95Last week I put a message on Twitter that prompted a couple of people to ask for more details:

On way to sunny Reading, fighting through traffic and rain to see a client, writing blog posts on the road and trying to not feel car sick

Yes, I was literally “blogging on the road” and it seems other people would like to do the same, so here is how I do it.

My setup is comprised:

  • Macbook
  • Nokia n95
  • 3G mobile internet tariff

The Mac talks to the phone over bluetooth and uses the 3G connection for connectivity. In the UK data costs are pretty expensive so I have recently switched from o2 and now have 1gb of data and more calls than I need for much less. It pays to shop around. Even better, my n95 also has Skype loaded, which is completely free while I am in the UK due to a deal with my new phone plan provider, 3. Overseas I still pay through the nose, but luckily outside the British Isles most countries have heard of free wifi.

While I have a spare battery for my laptop when flying, I also have a british plug to car power socket adapter that allows me to plug in pretty much any device and get power on the move. Sometimes I even remember to take it along.

I have been blogging while on travels for a few years but my setup has changed a fair bit, as you can see from this old post at Performancing

My equipment has a much more Microsoft flavour. My humble Samsung V25 laptop runs XP Pro, plus I have a O2 XDA Exec Pocket PC (a rebadged HTC running Windows Mobile 2005 for Pocket PC). For voice I have Skype both on my laptop (I use a $9 Skype earpiece/microphone, nothing so posh as Nicks headset) and also on my Pocket PC. The PDA is actually a phone, but I only use it for data and Skype as I have a Sony Ericsson K750i for normal cellular voice calls.

The n95 is a great phone for bloggers, and with it even without the laptop I am pretty connected, just a shame it doesn’t have a full keyboard like my old PDA. When we were in Chicago for SOBCon, Twitter was the main way to stay in contact, so being able to get web access from anywhere (mobile or wifi) is a boon. Try the mobile interface or TinyTwitter. In addition, IM tools are becoming an essential part of work life, I have been trialling eBuddy for MSN, etc, but it doesn’t seem to like the ‘@’ in my AIM account screen name.

I am looking at the new 3G iPhone quite closely, although I expect I might have to stick with the n95 as it sounds like Apple will still not allow you to hook the iPhone up to a computer to act as a modem which is pretty important for my use.

While I haven’t got this mobile blogging thing down to a fine art like Lorelle, my setup does show it is possible to be pretty portable with your blogging.

Do you blog while on your travels?

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Comments

  1. Glen Crosier says:

    Hi Chris – I haven’t had reason to get portable yet but just got a new Nokia 6500 – what features should I be looking for in a phone to establish if it’s good for a portable set up ?

    Cheers
    Glen
    Brighton
    UK

  2. Glen Crosier says:

    Hi Chris – I haven’t had reason to get portable yet but just got a new Nokia 6500 – what features should I be looking for in a phone to establish if it’s good for a portable set up ?

    Cheers
    Glen
    Brighton
    UK

  3. It depends on what you are going to do, but for me it was very important that my phone ran 3g, web browser and Java, with those you can get pretty far right away. After that I absolutely needed to be able to use the phone as a 3g modem because I don’t want to have two separate data plans. I know others are quite happy to use a USB mobile internet dongle and have another plan on their phone but I see that as a waste. The n95 is good at video, especially through Qik, which is an added bonus. Seems like from what I read Nokia 6500 is a capable phone :)

  4. It depends on what you are going to do, but for me it was very important that my phone ran 3g, web browser and Java, with those you can get pretty far right away. After that I absolutely needed to be able to use the phone as a 3g modem because I don’t want to have two separate data plans. I know others are quite happy to use a USB mobile internet dongle and have another plan on their phone but I see that as a waste. The n95 is good at video, especially through Qik, which is an added bonus. Seems like from what I read Nokia 6500 is a capable phone :)

  5. Thanks for the great info!

    I’ve not needed to be all that mobile (yet), but have been using my Nokia n75 (WISH I had a n95!) as my sole phone/internet modem for several months. In the US it is dramatically cheaper to get an unlimited data plan for a ‘consumer’ phone like the n75 and n95 rather than for a ‘business’ phone like the blackberry or Pocket PC phones. Right now I have the lowest cost voice plan they’ll allow ($39.99 +, always a +!) and only $20 more for my unlimited data plan.

    The only piece of hardware I want to add to get truly mobile is a folding Bluetooth keyboard. The Nokia keyboard will not lock open for laptop typing, so I’m researching 3rd party keyboards that are compatible. Any suggestions?

  6. Thanks for the great info!

    I’ve not needed to be all that mobile (yet), but have been using my Nokia n75 (WISH I had a n95!) as my sole phone/internet modem for several months. In the US it is dramatically cheaper to get an unlimited data plan for a ‘consumer’ phone like the n75 and n95 rather than for a ‘business’ phone like the blackberry or Pocket PC phones. Right now I have the lowest cost voice plan they’ll allow ($39.99 +, always a +!) and only $20 more for my unlimited data plan.

    The only piece of hardware I want to add to get truly mobile is a folding Bluetooth keyboard. The Nokia keyboard will not lock open for laptop typing, so I’m researching 3rd party keyboards that are compatible. Any suggestions?

  7. My mac bluetooth keyboard works with my n95, but it is too bulky to use as a portable :) Would be interested in whatever you settle on, a nice keyboard would be very handy. I wish the n95 could have a fold out screen too ;)

  8. My mac bluetooth keyboard works with my n95, but it is too bulky to use as a portable :) Would be interested in whatever you settle on, a nice keyboard would be very handy. I wish the n95 could have a fold out screen too ;)

  9. I wish the iPhone (old or new) was capable of working as a modem. Qik video (and others) is already coming out for it, but for heavy duty blogging you really need a laptop. Maybe someone will write an app for the new 2.0 OS that turns the iPhone into a modem… let’s wait and see.

    Still, in emergency situations, the iPhone has come through as a portable blogging platform – you just need to know the limitations.

  10. I wish the iPhone (old or new) was capable of working as a modem. Qik video (and others) is already coming out for it, but for heavy duty blogging you really need a laptop. Maybe someone will write an app for the new 2.0 OS that turns the iPhone into a modem… let’s wait and see.

    Still, in emergency situations, the iPhone has come through as a portable blogging platform – you just need to know the limitations.

  11. From what I understand, the iPhone bluetooth is currently restricted to headsets only? So there would need to be a fairly major hack unless Apple open it up

  12. From what I understand, the iPhone bluetooth is currently restricted to headsets only? So there would need to be a fairly major hack unless Apple open it up

  13. When I attended the Craft & Hobby Association winter trade show in January 2007, I blogged the event from the show floor using only a Palm T/X PDA.

    I had the external keyboard for the T/X to make typing easier and had Typepad’s Palm app installed to make posting via the conference center’s wifi easier. I took pictures with my camera and then transferred the SD card to the T/X’s expansion slot to use the photos in the entries.

    It worked great and saved me from lugging a laptop all the way across the country!

    Here’s a sample of the entries that I posted: http://www.scrapbookupdate.com/scrapnancy/2007/01/welcome_to_cha.html

    The entries were all one or two sentences and a photo – just giving people a glimpse of what was on the show floor as I walked it, posted throughout the day.

    And yes, the iPhone’s bluetooth only works with mono headsets…and poorly.

  14. When I attended the Craft & Hobby Association winter trade show in January 2007, I blogged the event from the show floor using only a Palm T/X PDA.

    I had the external keyboard for the T/X to make typing easier and had Typepad’s Palm app installed to make posting via the conference center’s wifi easier. I took pictures with my camera and then transferred the SD card to the T/X’s expansion slot to use the photos in the entries.

    It worked great and saved me from lugging a laptop all the way across the country!

    Here’s a sample of the entries that I posted: http://www.scrapbookupdate.com/scrapnancy/2007/01/welcome_to_cha.html

    The entries were all one or two sentences and a photo – just giving people a glimpse of what was on the show floor as I walked it, posted throughout the day.

    And yes, the iPhone’s bluetooth only works with mono headsets…and poorly.

  15. Anonymous says:

    My fav. quote regarding the basic difference between a Nokia n95 and an Apple iPhone:

    “The best way I can sum this up is something quite a few of the mobile blogging community has shared: The iPhone is for consuming content, while the N95 is for creating it.”

    http://www.atmasphere.net/wp/archives/2007/10/08/nokia-n95-or-apple-iphone

    I carry my fav music ripped to MP3s(…I already have the CDs, why do I need to buy the music again?). I create my own ringtones from those same MP3s. With the available Symbian OS software, I can read PDFs as well as read/write MS Word, Excel and Powerpoint files. What’s not to love?

  16. My fav. quote regarding the basic difference between a Nokia n95 and an Apple iPhone:

    “The best way I can sum this up is something quite a few of the mobile blogging community has shared: The iPhone is for consuming content, while the N95 is for creating it.”

    http://www.atmasphere.net/wp/archives/2007/10/08/nokia-n95-or-apple-iphone

    I carry my fav music ripped to MP3s(…I already have the CDs, why do I need to buy the music again?). I create my own ringtones from those same MP3s. With the available Symbian OS software, I can read PDFs as well as read/write MS Word, Excel and Powerpoint files. What’s not to love?

  17. I have been considering buying a laptop so that I could blog while on my trips. When I was in India for 3 weeks last years, I was alway from my blog the entire time and really missed not being able to share my experiences. I took a notebook for daily journaling for myself and then shared from that notebook when I got back home to the U. S. but it wasn’t the same as being on the spot and being able to blog about it. Thanks for giving me more options to checkout.

  18. I have been considering buying a laptop so that I could blog while on my trips. When I was in India for 3 weeks last years, I was alway from my blog the entire time and really missed not being able to share my experiences. I took a notebook for daily journaling for myself and then shared from that notebook when I got back home to the U. S. but it wasn’t the same as being on the spot and being able to blog about it. Thanks for giving me more options to checkout.

  19. Chris

    I blog on the move and am, as we speak, in my apartment in Spain. I use either my mobile / PDA via the mobile network or my laptop via a Vodafone 3G card.

    Data abroad is expensive however if you ring Vodafone there is a flat rate available per day in most locations. This gives you good access and in fact I have found reception abroad as good or better than that in the UK a lot of the time!

    For a laptop I find light is good and a decent keyboard is essential. I have an IBM Lenovo X60s which seems to balance both well… it’s light, robust, powerful (since I stuck 3G RAM and 250G hard drive in it) and has a great keyboard.

    With my laptop on my knee I have blogged from Ireland, Switzerland, France, Spain, Marrakech, the US, Canada, Sweden… you get the idea.

  20. Chris

    I blog on the move and am, as we speak, in my apartment in Spain. I use either my mobile / PDA via the mobile network or my laptop via a Vodafone 3G card.

    Data abroad is expensive however if you ring Vodafone there is a flat rate available per day in most locations. This gives you good access and in fact I have found reception abroad as good or better than that in the UK a lot of the time!

    For a laptop I find light is good and a decent keyboard is essential. I have an IBM Lenovo X60s which seems to balance both well… it’s light, robust, powerful (since I stuck 3G RAM and 250G hard drive in it) and has a great keyboard.

    With my laptop on my knee I have blogged from Ireland, Switzerland, France, Spain, Marrakech, the US, Canada, Sweden… you get the idea.

  21. I’m going to Gøteborg in Sweden in a day. I will bring along my laptop and at least try and update the blog and upload pictures on the road.

    Daniel

  22. I’m going to Gøteborg in Sweden in a day. I will bring along my laptop and at least try and update the blog and upload pictures on the road.

    Daniel

  23. Fine Art? Every year my system changes – or at least it feels like that. Well, at least my wallet says it feels like that. :D

    Like you, I’ve simplified things as much as possible in the past few years, taking advantage of smaller and faster everything. I now use a smaller laptop (half the weight of my last laptop) with the new Hawkins H-Gain USB Wireless G Dish Adapter, my own mini satellite dish, and grab WIFI from anywhere I can. The cost in the US of cell connections, and the horrible speeds and high rate of no connection from many of the locations I spend too much time is still not as handy as finding a free WIFI hotspot.

    The Hawkins “Dish” is about 15x10cm and looks just like a little satellite dish. It travels better than the Canantenna from Wireless Garden, which I loved as it really is a great booster grabbing WIFI across longer distances. Unfortunately, The only protective casing I could find for it was a plastic bread box holder, so I can honestly say it is as big as a bread box, a painful waster of space in a suitcase. The Hawkins is much smaller, weights a hair less, and takes up much less space, though doesn’t have the range. Still, it works better than the built in WIFI.

    Is WIFI now as prominent across England and Europe as was proposed a few years ago? I talked to a few people who traveled through England recently and they did not have joyous things to report. Maybe a cell connection is easier there than WIFI.

  24. Fine Art? Every year my system changes – or at least it feels like that. Well, at least my wallet says it feels like that. :D

    Like you, I’ve simplified things as much as possible in the past few years, taking advantage of smaller and faster everything. I now use a smaller laptop (half the weight of my last laptop) with the new Hawkins H-Gain USB Wireless G Dish Adapter, my own mini satellite dish, and grab WIFI from anywhere I can. The cost in the US of cell connections, and the horrible speeds and high rate of no connection from many of the locations I spend too much time is still not as handy as finding a free WIFI hotspot.

    The Hawkins “Dish” is about 15x10cm and looks just like a little satellite dish. It travels better than the Canantenna from Wireless Garden, which I loved as it really is a great booster grabbing WIFI across longer distances. Unfortunately, The only protective casing I could find for it was a plastic bread box holder, so I can honestly say it is as big as a bread box, a painful waster of space in a suitcase. The Hawkins is much smaller, weights a hair less, and takes up much less space, though doesn’t have the range. Still, it works better than the built in WIFI.

    Is WIFI now as prominent across England and Europe as was proposed a few years ago? I talked to a few people who traveled through England recently and they did not have joyous things to report. Maybe a cell connection is easier there than WIFI.

  25. I use my Compaq c765TU laptop and the K800i as a modem for mobile blogging. I write my blog posts offline then connect to fill in the links, trackbacks and upload a photo or two then hit publish. Too bad the Wi-Fi at my school has a content filter, I can’t visit blogger.com!

  26. I use my Compaq c765TU laptop and the K800i as a modem for mobile blogging. I write my blog posts offline then connect to fill in the links, trackbacks and upload a photo or two then hit publish. Too bad the Wi-Fi at my school has a content filter, I can’t visit blogger.com!

  27. I finally found a fellow blogger that owns a O2 PDA phone :) My wife’s father purchased a O2 XDA Flame and I was able to get it from him to use. I love the phone!

    -Mike

  28. I finally found a fellow blogger that owns a O2 PDA phone :) My wife’s father purchased a O2 XDA Flame and I was able to get it from him to use. I love the phone!

    -Mike

  29. I’ve never heard of TinyTwitter before, but this makes it so much easier than twittering through Widsets.

    I usually connect my MacBook Pro to my Nokia E51 or Nokia N80 using bluetooth depending on the mood ;)

    As in the UK data traffic is insanely priced and has nothing to do with reality.

    Same thing for public wifi. There are almost no free wifi hotspots anywhere.

  30. I’ve never heard of TinyTwitter before, but this makes it so much easier than twittering through Widsets.

    I usually connect my MacBook Pro to my Nokia E51 or Nokia N80 using bluetooth depending on the mood ;)

    As in the UK data traffic is insanely priced and has nothing to do with reality.

    Same thing for public wifi. There are almost no free wifi hotspots anywhere.

  31. @Nancy – I love those little keyboards. Seems daft that Apple are missing out on so many accessory sales.

    @Donna – I am sure Apple with catch a clue at some point!

    @Patricia – The options are sure to grow as time goes on, Blackberry, iPhone, Nokia, there are a lot of players all innovating

    @Gavin – It’s great to have a business where we can do this :) Sometimes it takes planning, too many times I have found myself with zero connectivity. I depend so much on my 3g connection that I forget there are places with no cell signal!

    @Daniel – Let me know how it works out for you :)

    @Lorelle – The UK is pretty backward, but getting better. I hear McDonalds now provides free wifi to customers (though I know you wouldn’t actually want to eat there), and Starbucks are getting pretty commonplace where you can buy wifi through t-mobile, but not cheaply in comparison to what I have paid in North America. Hotels are split between free wifi and stupidly expensive. The 3g has been the least wasteful solution for me.

    @jhay – I have friends who have found their own blog filtered!

    @Mike – Even though the pocket pc os is slow and frustrating at times, I love the convenience of that little devices keyboard and flexibility (even down to tools like remote desktop)

    @Dennis – I think companies like the highly profitable tarrifs they can impose. Plus more people used to share their wifi but the RIAA/MPAA and fears of bandwidth being used for nasty purposes put a stop to that. The iPhone might change things commercially somewhat as people begin to demand connectivity.

  32. @Nancy – I love those little keyboards. Seems daft that Apple are missing out on so many accessory sales.

    @Donna – I am sure Apple with catch a clue at some point!

    @Patricia – The options are sure to grow as time goes on, Blackberry, iPhone, Nokia, there are a lot of players all innovating

    @Gavin – It’s great to have a business where we can do this :) Sometimes it takes planning, too many times I have found myself with zero connectivity. I depend so much on my 3g connection that I forget there are places with no cell signal!

    @Daniel – Let me know how it works out for you :)

    @Lorelle – The UK is pretty backward, but getting better. I hear McDonalds now provides free wifi to customers (though I know you wouldn’t actually want to eat there), and Starbucks are getting pretty commonplace where you can buy wifi through t-mobile, but not cheaply in comparison to what I have paid in North America. Hotels are split between free wifi and stupidly expensive. The 3g has been the least wasteful solution for me.

    @jhay – I have friends who have found their own blog filtered!

    @Mike – Even though the pocket pc os is slow and frustrating at times, I love the convenience of that little devices keyboard and flexibility (even down to tools like remote desktop)

    @Dennis – I think companies like the highly profitable tarrifs they can impose. Plus more people used to share their wifi but the RIAA/MPAA and fears of bandwidth being used for nasty purposes put a stop to that. The iPhone might change things commercially somewhat as people begin to demand connectivity.

  33. I’m a low-tech mom, so I write most of my posts on the run on my Treo 680 and copy/paste them into blogger after I hotsync.

  34. I’m a low-tech mom, so I write most of my posts on the run on my Treo 680 and copy/paste them into blogger after I hotsync.

  35. I’m pretty addicted to mobile blogging, mostly to share whatever experience I’m having with others who cannot be there with me. I’ve done some blogging from the car, too – chiefly, a photo with a brief subject, sent from my phone. I don’t currently have a phone with qwerty, so texting is kind of a pain, but I do at least send my mobile photo blogging posts off with a brief subject. And btw, I’ve been coveting the N95; one of these days, I’ll take the plunge.

    Tink *~*~*

  36. I’m pretty addicted to mobile blogging, mostly to share whatever experience I’m having with others who cannot be there with me. I’ve done some blogging from the car, too – chiefly, a photo with a brief subject, sent from my phone. I don’t currently have a phone with qwerty, so texting is kind of a pain, but I do at least send my mobile photo blogging posts off with a brief subject. And btw, I’ve been coveting the N95; one of these days, I’ll take the plunge.

    Tink *~*~*

  37. well, I can post through my K-Jam, its quite easy with qwerty keyoad..

  38. well, I can post through my K-Jam, its quite easy with qwerty keyoad..

  39. Hi Chris just to let you know last year Reuters teamed up with Nokia and issued students this following moblogging kit list.

    see link http://reutersmojo.com/2007/10/22/the-mobile-journalism-toolkit-contents/

  40. Hi Chris just to let you know last year Reuters teamed up with Nokia and issued students this following moblogging kit list.

    see link http://reutersmojo.com/2007/10/22/the-mobile-journalism-toolkit-contents/

  41. I’m pretty addicted to mobile blogging, mostly to share whatever experience I’m having with others who cannot be there with me. I’ve done some blogging from the car, too – chiefly, a photo with a brief subject, sent from my phone.

  42. I’m pretty addicted to mobile blogging, mostly to share whatever experience I’m having with others who cannot be there with me. I’ve done some blogging from the car, too – chiefly, a photo with a brief subject, sent from my phone.

  43. I finally found a fellow blogger that owns a O2 PDA phone :) My wife’s father purchased a O2 XDA Flame and I was able to get it from him to use. I love the phone!

  44. I finally found a fellow blogger that owns a O2 PDA phone :) My wife’s father purchased a O2 XDA Flame and I was able to get it from him to use. I love the phone!

  45. just stumbled upon this blog – thanks for the great info! i’ve learned a lot – it’s great to see people really taking advantage of all of the new media that is out there…

  46. just stumbled upon this blog – thanks for the great info! i’ve learned a lot – it’s great to see people really taking advantage of all of the new media that is out there…

  47. After I wrote my comment above I have now made plans to attend an autism conference in Orlando and live blog it. My kit this time around will be a bit different. Since I don’t have to fly cross country:

    Dell laptop with two batteries
    Logitech webcam
    Olympus Digital audio recorder w/USB plug
    Canon SX100si camera with multiple cards, batteries & charger
    Logitech headset

    I haven’t settled on all the software yet but I will use audacity for audio editing, typepad’s web interface for posting, and Photoshop Elements for photoediting. Still working on the video portion of the tech.

    Obviously, this time I’ll be doing more than just several sentence/one photo posts. I will be doing live blogging of sessions, video notes in the evening and whatever else I can!

  48. After I wrote my comment above I have now made plans to attend an autism conference in Orlando and live blog it. My kit this time around will be a bit different. Since I don’t have to fly cross country:

    Dell laptop with two batteries
    Logitech webcam
    Olympus Digital audio recorder w/USB plug
    Canon SX100si camera with multiple cards, batteries & charger
    Logitech headset

    I haven’t settled on all the software yet but I will use audacity for audio editing, typepad’s web interface for posting, and Photoshop Elements for photoediting. Still working on the video portion of the tech.

    Obviously, this time I’ll be doing more than just several sentence/one photo posts. I will be doing live blogging of sessions, video notes in the evening and whatever else I can!

  49. I use my Nokia E90 to go mobile blogging with. It’s not the smallest of phones, but it’s fully loaded. I use it as a modem, connecting to my laptop via Bluetooth and then out over the Internet using its fast HSDPA connection. T-Mobile’s Web n Walk gives a good service with a flat rate data plan, so I don’t need to worry about bit counting.

    The best thing about the E90, though, is the VGA screen, great web browser and the built-in keyboard, which lets you blog on the move even without your laptop. You can see an example of how good the E90 is for mobile blogging here:

    http://mobilementalism.com/2007/12/24/oh-i-do-like-to-blog-beside-the-seaside/

    All content, both text and photos, were written on the E90, which was then used to submit the content to my blog over the air. I now find the E90 indispensible and feel lost without it! (but that might just be because I’m a geek!)

  50. I use my Nokia E90 to go mobile blogging with. It’s not the smallest of phones, but it’s fully loaded. I use it as a modem, connecting to my laptop via Bluetooth and then out over the Internet using its fast HSDPA connection. T-Mobile’s Web n Walk gives a good service with a flat rate data plan, so I don’t need to worry about bit counting.

    The best thing about the E90, though, is the VGA screen, great web browser and the built-in keyboard, which lets you blog on the move even without your laptop. You can see an example of how good the E90 is for mobile blogging here:

    http://mobilementalism.com/2007/12/24/oh-i-do-like-to-blog-beside-the-seaside/

    All content, both text and photos, were written on the E90, which was then used to submit the content to my blog over the air. I now find the E90 indispensible and feel lost without it! (but that might just be because I’m a geek!)