about We are Akila and Patrick. Our minds (and waistlines) expand as we travel, cook, and eat our way around the world with our two dogs.
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the digital nomad's electronics death toll


This has nothing to do with this post . . . except that I'd rather be here than dealing with this

Because we are digital nomads and self-employed, we are every single person in the typical company.  We are our own help desks, secretaries, accountants, and financial analysts.  On most days, these administrative duties take only a few minutes from our daily schedule but, some days, everything comes to a standstill because the difficulties of managing a business collide with the actual work we wish to do.

Yesterday was one of those days.  One hour into writing, my 10-month-new state-of-the-art Sony Vaio laptop whined and then screeched, reminiscent of the appalling sounds of the emus that roam Australia, stunning me out of my work.  The black screen appeared and I reverted to my catch-all technological fix, Control + Alt + Delete, and the computer soon started up.  Within minutes, the screen was black again.  For four hours, I pressed the Power button, watched the computer boot up and frantically saved my most recent work to our backup drive and server.  By the time the evening rolled around, the computer had, with somber finality, died.

A crashed computer shouldn’t cause Boy Scout-worthy-knots in my shoulders but, yet, it did.  This computer is my livelihood and, in the time it will take me to ship it to the Sony warranty center, have them fix it, and send it back to me, I will lose several weeks of work.  I have a full line of blog posts scheduled, some technical writing lined up, and intended to finish the first draft of my novel by the end of this month.  I can appropriate Patrick’s computer in the evenings (as I am doing now), but he needs it during the day.  And, all our pictures, photo editing software, videos, and video editing software are on my computer, meaning that things might be a bit quieter on this website until my laptop is fixed.

There is a slew of logistical issues, as well.  We are currently in Savannah and leave at the end of next week for Charleston.  If the Sony center can’t fix it by the time we leave Savannah, do we have them ship it to Charleston or do we wait to have it fixed until we reach Asheville in April, at which time we will be in one place for a full month?

This isn’t the first technological worry we’ve had since we have begun traveling full-time.  In the past 18 months, we have suffered through the following death toll:

  • Sony Vaio laptop (not this one – my prior Sony laptop) due to extreme heat issues
  • Macbook Air laptop due to extreme heat issues
  • First-generation iPhone dropped and broken on concrete steps
  • An 18-200 Nikon VR lens dropped and broken while hiking
  • Canon point and shoot camera that died after being exposed to sand from the Namibian dunes

Granted, we work our electronics harder than the average person, taking them through extreme conditions, temperatures, and situations, and use them on a daily basis.  But, the Sony Vaio that just died is less than a year old and I’ve already sent it to the warranty center once because the hinges for the monitor fell apart.  I spent two hours on the phone this morning with the warranty center and they believe that my 32 GB solid-state hard drive (which I purchased for its supposed crash-proof-worthiness) is corrupt and needs to be entirely replaced.  Patrick keeps telling me I need to suck it up and start buying Macs but I then point out that his Macbook Air reached mind-boggling temperatures before he replaced it.  Plus, call me old-fashioned, but I prefer PCs.

We’re not the only digital nomads to suffer from a heavy electronics death toll and, given Christine’s death toll of five computers in three years , maybe we should consider ourselves lucky.  Is replacing electronics the inevitable consequence of this lifestyle?  Or, is it just, as the old folks used to say, that things aren’t made like they used to be?  Is there a laptop out there made for the digital nomad?  And, if not, why the heck not?

Either way, we have learned something from these disasters.  Last year, when we replaced my old Sony laptop with this one, we purchased the most exhaustive 3-year warranty Sony offered.  We purchase all our equipment using our American Express card, which automatically doubles the manufacturer’s warranty.  We keep all our equipment in heavily padded Manfrotto and Kata bags.  We back-up everything every single day to our Cloud storage (I’ll tell you about our awesome data storage plan later) and on a weekly basis to our external hard drive.  Even still, our equipment dies, we lose data, and I devolve into a very, very irritable person.

So, this week, I’m planning on buying an iPad 2 because we want a back-up option in case either of our laptops crash.  Heck, I should just say that we want a back-up option for when our laptops crash because, at this point, the laptop death toll seems to be an inevitability.  We hate spending the money on another piece of gear but we don’t see any other choice.  We don’t have a help desk that we can call to magically send up a computer when ours crash and we don’t have a financial analyst that can buffer our working expenses with a glut of extra equipment purchased at deep discounts.  We are all we have.

Then again, maybe I’m jumping to conclusions.  What would you do?  Is buying the iPad 2 a complete mistake?  Should I suck it up and buy a Mac?  Is there a laptop that can actually withstand the conditions we put it through?  Any suggestions are gladly welcome because I am about ready to bang my head against a very hard wall to avoid dealing with these technological nightmares.