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Jewish World Review
Nov. 9, 2007
/ 27 Mar-Cheshvan 5768
Computing in Amman: What to Bring
AMMAN, Jordan -- When you go to the capital of the Hashemite Kingdom of
Jordan, don't forget your sunscreen, even in November. There's a
strong sun here, evident in even a few moments out of doors.
At the same time, don't forget to bring your laptop, cell phone and
other digital gear. The kingdom is well wired for the 21st century.
Spending three nights at the Grand Hyatt in Amman, I was delighted to
find high-speed wired Internet service available. The $22-per-day cost
isn't so wonderful, but it's better than what I found in Izmir,
Turkey, some 15 months ago.
As far as which laptop to bring, I'd go for something small and light.
I'm carrying an older-but-still-very-useful model of Apple's MacBook,
with a 13-inch widescreen display and enough horsepower to handle
various tasks. I could just as easily have packed Fujitsu's T-2010
tablet PC, reviewed here a few weeks back. The key is small and light
- your shoulders will thank you.
On the telephony side, once you've signed up for the high-speed
Internet, there's nothing better than Skype for calling back home. I
made two 15-minute "calls" back home to landline phones in the U.S.
and spent less than $1, far better than what my U.S.-based cellular
carrier would charge. Call quality was excellent at both ends, in part
thanks to my using Logitech's $49.99 ClearChat Pro USB headset,
released in late August. The headset is comfortable, has a built-in,
swing arm style microphone, and, as the name implies, used the USB
port for digital audio. The device made calling a delight.
Cell phones and similar devices using the Global Standard for Mobile,
or GSM, work just fine here, but forget about using CDMA phones, such
as those from Sprint and Verizon. That network doesn't operate in this
city, which is a shame: Sprint's CDMA data modem was a lifesaver at
both Reagan National and John F. Kennedy International airports. By
the way, Palm's travel kit is very handy, coming as it does with
electric connection adapters for many nations, including Jordan,
letting me recharge a Palm Treo easily.
Travel of course brings many opportunities for photo taking. I'm using
two cameras from Fujifilm USA, one a shirt-pocket model and the
other a fixed-lens camera with an 18-times optical zoom, going from
the equivalent of 27mm to 486mm. Full reviews will appear here later,
but I'm impressed that the Fujifilm cameras take both SecureDigital
, or SD, storage cards as well as the Fuji-Olympus xD
format storage card. When I placed a 2 Gigabyte SD card in the
fixed-lens FinePix S8000fd , it showed that I had just under
1,000 pictures available at 8 megapixels, the equivalent of more than
27 rolls of 36-exposure film. Sweet. Also in my camera bag is the
Olympus E-510, also reviewed here a few months back. Sometimes an SLR
camera is what you need, and the Olympus is a winner.
One interesting sidelight of modern-day travel is that my electronic
gear can respond to varying electrical voltages; use the correct wall
adapter and the computer, phone or battery charger knows what it's
getting and handles it appropriately.
For those interested in tourism to Jordan, which abounds in biblical
and antiquarian sites, the Internet Web site www.seejordan.org, hosted
by the Jordan National Tourism Board, is a great place to start. Over
the next few days, I hope to see some of those wonders, and I'm
confident that my digital travel gear will come in handy.
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JWR contributor Mark Kellner has reported on technology for industry newspapers and magazines since 1983, and has been the computer columnist for The Washington Times since 1991.Comment by clicking here.
© 2007, News World Communications, Inc. Reprinted with permission of The Washington Times. Visit the paper at http://www.washingtontimes.com