Blogging Without a Laptop? iPad to the Rescue. I Hope.

59 comments

travel and lucid dreaming

I used to think that there was nothing more worthless than a blogger without Internet access. I stand corrected: a blogger sans a laptop is completely useless.

The power supply for my three year old MacBook has been slowly dying for the last couple of months.

This is the second power supply to give up during my 2+ year trip — the first came apart in Varanasi, India with no warning. One day the cord just fell off — Surprise! You’re screwed! Amazingly, I found a computer shop that stocked a few basic Mac parts and was back in business within the day.

But now I’m in Mexico and, while there are a few Apple stores here, they’re all in the north. This time the problem is on the other end of the cord — the proprietary magnetized plug that attaches to the laptop was wearing out and required several minutes of fiddling and cursing before it would finally start charging. I think it had a serious masochist streak. 

(And before the PC crowd chimes in, I’d like to point out that reason Apple uses this MagSafe connection is that it comes free when someone accidentally kicks your power cord away, avoiding serious damage to the laptop. Working in coffee shops and cafes, I’ve had this happen nearly a dozen times in the last two years, so the feature has undoubtedly saved me some repair costs. It’s costing me now but I can’t really complain. I suspect it’s a wash.)

After researching online and finding that the nearest Apple vendor was at least 14 hours away by bus, I thought: I’ll just order online. It was easy enough, despite my poor Spanish, (Google translated most of the page) and I quickly received my confirmation with a UPS tracking code. Delivery was 10 days away — hopefully the adapter would hang in there until then. 

They delivered it three days early. In Mexico. I had planned on camping out at my apartment “complex” (8 rooms) for the last couple of days before the due date but this caught me unprepared. Instead, I was out riding a rented bike in the mountains when it was delivered and my Canadian neighbor –not recognizing my name– refused to sign for it. 

The online tracking said it was scheduled for redelivery and it soon was, two days later — to a stranger in Mexico City. UPS is “investigating”. I’ll never see it, I suspect.

Part of this problem is due to my lack of Spanish, I admit. And a big part is due to my neighbor being a weenie and not signing for a package with a gringo’s name in a place full of gringos. He’s off my Christmas card list for good.

The nearest confirmed Apple store (or iStore, as they’re reportedly called here) is in Merida, a 14 hour bus ride from here. I have a fellow traveling friend who may be able to pick one up for me and return sometime during the week. 

If not, there’s some serious bus time in my future. But I’m trying to be upbeat and have decided that I’ll attempt to turn a negative into a positive. I’ve been making notes on a future review of the iPad as a travel tool and this seems like the perfect time to do that.

I’ll also do a post on the pros and cons of using an iPad as a blogging tool — it will be a bit of a challenge, I suspect. I own an iPad 2 and the camera is terrible, so don’t expect any stunning shots. 

But it will be an interesting experience, I’m sure. 

So, let’s see what happens. And, for the record, this post has been created entirely on my iPad.  

59 comments on “Blogging Without a Laptop? iPad to the Rescue. I Hope.

  1. Seems good enough for an iPad! It would be a good experiment ;)

    Let me know if I can help :) (Mexican living in Puerto Rico)

  2. I realize I have an unhealthy attachment to my laptop. I think that trying to write a blog post on a touch screen would drive me mad. Good luck bringing your laptop back to life.

  3. When I bought my iPad, I thought I would use it for reading books and writing on my blog but the writing part has never happened. I even bought a keyboard to use. The problem is not the writing part but that it is so difficult to insert pictures with the WordPress app. You can actually write on a blog online but you again run into the photo problem because it can’t find photos saved on the iPad. I either write on the computer or wait until I get home.

    • I’m finding the same problem. I think the answer is going to be to save an HTML template for that bit, upload my photo to Flickr, then cut and paste in the new URL. A lot of work :/

    • Totally agree here – the image thing is the biggest issue. It can be done, it is just more time consuming. I do have the Apple Keyboard which helps with the writing. It just takes more time to edit the photos. I stopped using the WordPress app as the WordPress site has gotten better at rendering on the iPad. You do need wi-fi to use that though.

  4. Hmmm, since I can’t comment on the Spanish language besides it’s almost nonexistent (vamos a la playa), I just say, I can’t imagine not to have an iPad when it comes to writing my posts.

    It’s with me all the time, and the thing about time is so are my thoughts…

    Okay it takes some practice but then again I am a slow writer anyway.

    btw I recommend the Blogsy app.

    • I’ve gotten a lot quicker with the typing and I dearly love my iPad — so handy. I’ve tinkered off and on with the blogsy app and am still debating whether it’s faster than just code or not…

  5. Blogging on an iPad is can be done through the WordPress app but it does not deal with pictures well. You can always go back and add them in later once you have a computer again. Supposedly the new Microsoft SkyDrive app lets you access your images through other apps but I have not tried that yet.

    • Yeah, photos are the big drawback, plus being able to quickly edit text is a chore. Just spent all morning trying to come up with a faaster workflow…

  6. Let us know about IPAD blogging. Could be an EBook soon. haha. We had a MacAir and an Iphone4S on the road. Wondering if we could of even attempted to blog on the iPhone.

  7. Looks like you did a pretty good job blogging with an iPad! I used my iPod Touch to do some blogging on a 6-week trip but it just got too annoying to do long term.

  8. So Wes, if that is your real name, what name are you going by in this this apartment if he didn’t know your name? ;)

    I was in a hostel this week and in the common room there were 4 iPads, 3 people on mobile devices and me with my laptop. It seems iPads have become the travellers computer of choice. I was watching one young guy typing faster on the his iPad than I ever could on my laptop.

    • Ha! My first names is James, actually. Hence the confusion. I didn’t really know him well anyway — he’d only been here a week or so. And yeah, iPads are becoming really popular for travel. I certainly love mine.

  9. I spend my days doing a mixture of blogging and computer programming. The idea of my laptop breaking in some non-fixable way keeps me up at night. Having to get to the nearest big town specially, having to plonk down that much cash, having to reinstall everything and then trying to make up for lost time. Good luck. Be grateful its just the adapter :)

  10. I’ve only recently got my first tablet (3rd gen ‘new iPad’ which we’re not allowed to call iPad 3 for some reason) and don’t think I could deal with blogging with it long term, but it would be ok temporarily.

    I tried the eBay app out tonight to sell some stuff (a load of listings similar to one another), and although it was OK it didn’t give the option of ‘sell another similar product’ so I had to enter everything again manually. Even copy and pasting the description and title doesn’t speed things up as it’s all the drop down boxes that take time. Ended up doing it on laptop in the end.

    I find it’s good for drawing stuff, but otherwise it’s mostly a content consumption rather than content creation device.

  11. I don’t own a Mac but there are definitely a lot of pros from what I read. As a PC user, there are definitely some frustrations with Windows (I don’t need to go into all the reasons). However, I’ve not been in your situation before thank goodness. What a bummer that you missed that delivery! I would be so annoyed at that. What a bummer. Hope everything works out for you though and you get what you need without needing a 14 hour bus ride.

  12. I have found the iPad nearly completely worthless for blogging. The problem is inserting photos. I shoot with a 35mm DSLR and haven’t found a good way to insert photos into iPad’s WordPress app. Consequently, I have to wait till I get home to write a blog post, which takes away from any immediacy I’d get from being able to post from the road. I plan to buy a Mac laptop when I can afford one, but that might be awhile.

    • With two easy tweaks after jail breaking, you can use the full WordPress on Safari with the iPad. I would really use the iPad since you already have one and you can use it the way you want.

      • Tell me more about this please. Do you need a computer to initiate this? Can you give very specific steps to accomplish this? I travel and mange my website via iPad only but this year I can’t get my photos as I was previously able to… So irritating. I’m also looking atBlogy to solve this.

  13. So sorry to hear that. I actually had a lot of issues with my netbook cord in South America, had many places “fix” it along the way.

    It’ll be interesting to see how an iPad works for you.

  14. If the iPad doesn’t work well there is always Vino de Bacca! Oh wait, no internet there. See you soon my friend!

    • Thank god there’s no Internet there!

    • Ugh. Vino de Bacca!

      Sorry to hear about your mac. I DREAD that day when mine dies and I’m in the middle of nowhere.

      • And now I just read the date of your post and realized it was PRE meeting you. You know, I was thinking, dude was using his ipad to blog when I was there. It happened AGAIN? Time for a new ‘puter.

        Shouldn’t do internet stuff while lost in illustration. I barely know what year it is when I do that.

        • I barely know what year it is all the time. But, yes, it is time for a new ‘puter. Debating between a heavy 15″ workhorse or the rumored 13″ Retina which should clock in around 3 pounds. Finances might complicate things…

  15. Wow, what an experience. I hope you have a great experimentation with the I-pad. It would be great to see a post on the pros and cons of using an i-pad as a blogging tool. I am curious to know as everybody seems to be getting an i-pad but I have not heard the fellow bloggers rant and rave about it. Great read!

  16. We are currently on our third Mac power cord. One *almost* died in Honduras, we couldn’t move the laptop for two weeks in fear that any slight change would cause it to die (waited for my Mom to come visit and bring one).

    The second one was showing initial signs of fading and when we had a friend coming from NYC to Turkey, we pleaded with her to bring us one just in case. So now we have two, and feel much safer!! Despite the problems, we would never use anything but a Mac now…

    Good luck with the iPad. :)

  17. It’s always the power supply that goes. I actually carry a spare bit — the one with the mag bit up to the box — for precisely that reason.

    I’ve visited Apple Stores in Malaysia, China and Lebanon now. I don’t think it’s that Macs are intrinsically unreliable, although the cables are a bitch. But, boy, am I hard on technology.

  18. Sorry to hear about the problems, but glad you are making it a positive experience! Really excited to hear more about how useful an iPad is for traveling, especially with all the things you will be needing if for.

  19. Sounds like you’ve had some serious bad luck with your Macbook… Maybe the iPad will bring you some better luck! Looking forward to the review because I am considering making the purchase. It seems much easier to travel with – smaller, lighter, easier to get out on a bus or plane, etc…

  20. Funny, because when I first looked at this post I was shocked to see the photo at the top and knew it wasn’t your usual stunning quality! Will be interested to hear how you get on blogging on your iPad – have considered buying one myself but whenever I’ve used them in the past for anything more technical than simply web browsing or using apps it has just seemed cumbersome.

  21. Steph on said:

    Using the iPad to blog, I also have the photo insertion problem. I’m glad to see that, no, I’m not an idiot, it is as difficult as I thought. :)

    Enjoying your stories, as usual!

  22. The mini bluetooth keyboard is an *excellent* companion for the iPad. I used this combo a lot back in 2010.

    Wait – there’s an Apple iStore in Merida! Cool! I’ll stop in just to bask in the environment and maybe wipe a tear from the corner of my eye…

  23. It’s close, but no cigar! I think within a short amount of time, the last few difficulties will be overcome, and iPad’s for blogging will become quite “normal”.

  24. Writing this from my iPad 3 as well as 100% maintenance and control over my sites, it is not only possible and efficient, but also convenient. I never use the WordPress app as its still useless but with the right jailbreak tweaks, I can now use full WordPress through Safari with all functionality. So yes, uploads of photos and video. Photo editing can be done with the Photoshop Touch. For serious editing, I can log onto 1 of my laptops back home that are constantly on and off (rotating) for Photoshop CS5 via LogMeIn. I use a GoPro camera as well as my iPhone 4S for video and photos and getting the files to the iPad requires no internet or extra cables with the help of the Eye-Fi card. So with these problems solved, the iPad is the best tool for a working traveler.

  25. Unlucky my man, i’m sure the iPad can do a job just as good – with loads of new apps and availability of images and so on – shouldn’t see any stumbling blocks to blogging on your iPad

    • It works but it’s slow. Until they make it easier to precisely select text (copying urls out of code, etc), I don’t see it being a good platform for a serious blogger. For an update “Hi Mom” kind of post, it’s fine…

  26. MONIROM on said:

    Wes (James) hang in there man. The longer you use the iPad the easier it gets. Especially of you’re good at texting, you can split the virtual keyboard and go to town with just your thumbs. Also the iPad 3 has the same optics as the iPhone 4S and the results are gorgeous so by the time you’re ready to upgrade be sure to test drive it in the Apple store. Wicked fast as well. Anyways I’m rambling, the point I’m trying to make is that the 3rd gen iPad supports dictation – right off the standard keyboard. So that might work for you too. Unless you have a heavy accent it’s spot on 99% of the time. I’m using it now to compose this comment. Don’t worry if you’re not in the market for a new iPad – the dictation feature is also in the new iOS 6 release this fall so you’ll get it widen you update the software.

  27. Oh almost completely forgot to ask you. When you were in South East Asia last (Laos specifically) how was Internet access outside of well established hotels. Non existent? Last, any problems outside of switching to French power plugs to power the laptop? Im traveling to Laos in a few months for an extended visit and am contemplating getting a travel powerstrip with a surge protector, wondering if I need an inverter as well. (I know the MacBook Pro will be fine, just not so sure about plugging in the camera and other gadgets).

    • Yes, pretty thin internet access in Laos when I was there unless you hit high-end hotels. As for an inverter, I don’t know anyone who carries one — laptops/cameras/etc are built for a world market and dual voltage. I do recommend the surge protecter — very handy and worth the little added weight.

  28. Nevermind (getting back to me) read your posts tagged with “laos” as keywords as well as your gear lists/posts. Very informative. I’ll be staying with “family” since my mothers side is related to 75 percent of the Lao population between Luang Prabang and Vientianne. I’ll let you know if connectivity is any better when one is going native.

  29. Given that this post was written in June, you probably have already solved your problem, and have a new Apple power supply.

    If you did made the bus trip to Merida, I hope you have enjoyed the town.
    I spend 3 nights in Merida a couple of years ago, and found the town really authentic, especially at night, when all the tourist busses have left from the day trips.

    I hope you will write about your adventure to experience what you have encountered there.

    Thanks

    DG

  30. Go for it man! I’ve been thinking about using a PDA/ smartphone with a keypad or a tablet for blogging for years now. It would be excellent to shed the netbook for the more trying and arduous types of adventures. Tried to cycle across Iceland last year with my full tech rig — which weights around 20 pounds — on top of everything else. It sucked haha. Anyway, good on ya for having a contingency plan for when the first string blogging tool goes down. All the best, Wade.

  31. My ‘reliable’ laptop gave up 3 weeks in to our trip so I had to rely on using a Blackberry for blogging. This was a painful experience, certainly for my fingers on those tiny keys, but credit where its due it did at least work. I just wouldn’t recommend it for more than an occasional post.

  32. Hey Wes, I thought the iPad might replace my computer, but now I see that really isn’t going to work. Glad I brought my computer also, on the trip to Europe. I got a keyboard to use with the iPad, but still, there are times when I really need a mouse pointer and the finger pointing just doesn’t work well for editing a website. However, it is very handy when I need a little connection to the internet, and when I need a connection and there’s no wifi available, I can hook up with the phone connection, though it’s bloody expensive. I need to look into a European service as opposed to paying AT&T for connection abroad. More crap to learn every day while traveling. Have you figured out a way to NOT take a laptop?

    • I wish I could say I could but I don’t expect it to happen anytime soon. I do a ton of photography and I freelance on the side so I need Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. A laptop-free life is not an option for me. The iPad is *extremely* handy, though and I will never travel without one. The 10 hour battery life on a bus trip is worth the weight and expense alone.

      But, yes, the precise editing of text and uploading of images is the main thing holding back the iPad as a blogging tool for the road. At the moment. Check back in a year and I suspect I’ll be singing another tune.

  33. I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my own weblog and was wondering what all is required to get setup? I’m assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny?
    I’m not very internet savvy so I’m not 100% sure.
    Any recommendations or advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Kudos
    Pattaya Meeting recently posted..Pattaya MeetingMy Profile

    • Blogging can be very cheap, especially when you’re just starting out and don’t have crazy amounts of traffic. I would recommend trying wordpress.org first — you get a free account and a choice of basic looks. Most importantly, you get to learn the basics and decide if blogging is really for you. The if you decide to get serious, your site is easily transferred to a paid host. The downside is that your blogname will be BLOGNAME.wordpress.org but for $10 you can register your own name and lose the .worpress portion…

  34. Sorry to hear about the problems, but its good that you are making it a positive experience..

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