As you might expect, I'm preparing diligently for my upcoming teaching excursion to Africa. This preparation includes (but is certainly not limited to) figuring out how to how to blog under the…how shall we say it…less than ideal conditions. Sure, sure, Bujumbura is the capital of the ENTIRE COUNTRY of Burundi. But that bit of trivia doesn't make blogging there as easy as you might think. Internet access is better in Burundi than in Congo DR certainly, but that doesn't mean that it's good.
Added to the scarcity of internet connectivity is the problem of taking a laptop to Africa. Aside from the weight and bulk of a laptop and its essentials, physical security is a huge concern. Of course, a laptop is liable to be purloined anywhere in the world. But the challenges of Africa make protecting such an expensive investment even more difficult. Still, using your own laptop is much more preferable to using the glacially slow internet cafés in country, where bandwidth is measured in geologic ages. So I'm prepared to take my laptop if I have to, keeping it clutched to my breast at all times.
But possibly there is a third option. With the roll out of iOS4, the iPhone has become a sort of iPad mini. While there are considerable trade-offs in choosing the iPhone over a laptop, there aren't as many as once existed.
For example, if I were forced to use the virtual keyboard on the iPhone itself, inputing text longer than a tweet would quickly become tedious. But with the Bluetooth connectivity now a reality, it's possible to connect a wireless keyboard to my überphone, resulting in text entry that is quick and accurate (well, relatively accurate). In fact, I'm fashioning this post with my Apple Aluminum Wireless Keyboard and my 3GS iPhone right now. Those wonderful folks at Squarespace (who host my blog) have provided an app for managing my site, making it possible to compose, edit, and post an entry--with pictures--to my blog almost as quickly as from my MacBook Pro. At least, I think it is. This is the dry run, so to speak.
There are a few hurdles yet to overcome. I haven't figured out a good way to prop up the phone in order to see the screen. I'm sure a relatively cheap solution could be found at the hardware store, but I haven't actually looked yet. It's also a bit annoying that I only get to see a tiny bit of the text entry window. This means I can't go back (easily) and read the flow of what I've written. With my presbyopia, the text is also little itty bitty. I can see it, but if I was tired, I might not.
I also haven't figured out a way to insert links into the text. There might be a way, but I haven't found it yet. And, while I can upload pictures from my iPhone, I don't think there is a way to control the insertion point. In other words, I would like the picture of the keyboard to be between this paragraph and the next one, but don't know if that's even possible.
So I'm not sure this is the right solution for me yet. I'm still going to experiment. But it's an encouraging start.