I never realized how much I used my computer until it died on me. It's my entertainment, my connection to company, my connection to home and friends, my weight and balance worksheet, my flight planning tool, the way I check on the progress of that charts order (still not here), the way I look up regulations, and where a lot of my data is stored.
I have the essentials printed out on a sheet that I keep meaning to laminate, but instead just print out again every time it gets tattered. I have more data, including encrypted passwords for more sites than I can remember, in a memory stick. I take the memory stick down to the hotel "business centre" and pop it in a USB slot to get what I need. It's a nifty little thing that will put the password I need in the clipboard so I can paste it, and then clear the buffer. That way I need never type my password when anyone, including a potential keyboard stroke counter, is watching. But this business centre computer has been so thoroughly sanitized that I cannot run the executable necessary to get at my data. It won't run from the E: drive and it can't be copied onto the hotel computer.
Fortunately my company e-mail is web-based, and I remember that password, so I can communicate that way. I don't want to sit in the business centre and blog, though, and besides the blog entries I intended to post this week are all in partially-written note form on the hard drive of the dead computer. I don't want to have to reconstruct them.
I do have one more Internet-capable device, that I'd almost forgotten. An iPod Touch. I know, how do you forget you have a cool pocket-sized computer? It is mine, a gift, but I passed it to someone else to use while I was at work, because I had my iPod shuffle and my laptop and didn't see a need for what was essentially a second computer and a second iPod. And I don't like things to go to waste. I have only just reclaimed it, and not really used it yet except as a photo album.
I turned it on and it easily connected to the hotel Internet. Some websites automatically detected that it was a mobile and provided a mobile interface that was easy to use. Others were virtually impossible to use, as their navigation conflicted with the touch interface. The on-screen keyboard wasn't quite as hard to use as I would have expected for something that small, and it does make fairly intelligent autocompletion and autocorrection suggestions. Except when I had some grease on my hands from the airplane and then it would crazily autocorrect to strings like "triiiiiyyyuyiiiiing tyyyyyo". Washing my hands and cleaning the screen helped there.
I knew that most of my problems could be solved with software, and I was willing to pay for some, so I googled things like "iPod touch spreadsheet" and tried to download what I found. The sites told me that I needed to upgrade to the latest version of iTunes. "Simply connect your device to your computer," it told me. I guess thinking of this as a kind of miniature emergency back up computer is not the right model. I guess it really is just a mobile Sudoku, YouTube and photograph display tablet.
And the one time I didn't bring my camera on a flight we're overflying both the Yukon and the Northwest Territories. The change in terrain is subtle but in the corner of the Yukon where I am there are eskers on the ground, long ridgy things, very recognizable, somehow formed during glaciation. These were very clear and would have been easy to photograph, although I can't upload any pictures until I get my computer back.