Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Laptop Advice, Please

Field season is back in swing, and I have been traveling for work several days a week, staying in hotels across the region. Last year, this meant I would be out of touch with friends and family for days on end (not to mention apart from bloggyland). My Mom lives out of state, and we email regularly. This past Christmas, she got got me a laptop, no doubt in part so we could could stay in touch while I am traveling. I thought that would solve the incommunicado issue once and for all.

However, it hasn't really panned out like that, at least not consistently. I took the laptop with me out of state for several nights, and got online in my hotel with no problems. But that was doing visual fieldwork, driving around taking pictures all day. I never had to leave the laptop locked up in the vehicle, because I was always either in the car myself, or in the hotel. However, the majority of my fieldwork is environmental in nature. Basically, I park the vehicle on the side of the road and hoof off into the woods or fields, often not returning for many hours.

I am afraid to leave the laptop in the car because I worry the extreme temperatures would be bad for the computer. That means during weeks like this, I'm back to being out of touch a lot. Monday morning a co-worker and I drove out to a field site, and it was nearly 8 pm before we checked into our hotel. Then we checked out first thing in the morning, and headed back out to the woods for another full day. Had I brought the laptop, it would have to be locked in the hot vehicle for two days straight. This scenario will repeat itself exactly tomorrow and Friday.

My fear is not based on any knowledge, just instinct. I won't leave my camera in the car to bake in the sun either. Extreme heat doesn't seem like it would mix well with electronica. Can anyone debunk this theory for me? Offer any advice? My laptop is new and shiny and I like it a lot; I don't want to destroy it. On the other hand, if a car hot enough to kill the hordes of black flies is harmless to a computer, maybe I should bring it along.


Electronic Goose said...

Your instincts are right, unfortunately: don't leave the laptop in the heat, the electronic components are very sensitive. (Hubby is a computer nerd.)

You can find more info here:

Nadine said...

That is unfortunate. We were looking forward to more regular postings... :-)

Debbie in NC said...

You received info you were looking for already. The only thing I can think of is put in back back with a sealed bit of ice. Separate of course.

Gosh, this is a dilemma and we'll miss hearing from you and your Mom will especially!

Thank goodness you don't have to keep film cooled :)

coffeypot said...

Is it too heavy to put into a backpack and take with you? If you had a wireless card you could email from the field - as long as you can get cell service. It is a tad expensive, but you are in touch with the world if you were to get hurt or lost. Something to think about.

Nico del Castillo said...

Saw this post while looking around for people with laptop questions, and it looks like electronic goose got it right.

If you must keep it in the car, however, make sure it is out of direct sunlight (as in well-covered). Some have resorted to keeping a cold-pack in the same bag and though that lasts about an hour, it may help keep the temperature of the bag down.