Splette's Travel Blog
  • Work
  • April7th

    laptops_headerThree and a half years ago I bought an expensive Sony Vaio Z in order to be able to work throughout my original 2-year trip across North and Central America. That 13.3″ Vaio was pretty powerful and had a nice screen. But more often than not it gave a headache. The first time I had to sent it to repair was still in Germany just a month after I got it. The second time was during the trip in Boston, which took them forever to fix. Eventually, the screen showed some permanent damage in the form of vertical streaks of dead pixels that drove me insane. Anyway, I didn’t have the money to buy a new one, so I kept using it whenever I traveled.

    The last few weeks before this trip to Panama and Costa Rica have been pretty intense. Plenty of work with tight deadlines. In general I think it’s not good to bring work to your vacation but I didn’t have much of a choice. The first few days in Panama I spent in a small beach hut with my Panamanian friend, a fridge full of beer and WiFi. Good conditions to get some of the urgent work done. Until… the power went off for hours. And when it came back on I realized it had killed the computer. Nooooooooo…. ! Whenever I tried to turn it on, it would power off after a few seconds. Stuck at the beach with a broken laptop and some tight deadlines sucks. I swore to myself never to buy a Sony laptop again…

    Copying data from the old laptop harddisk

    Copying data from the old laptop harddisk

    The next morning my friend and I went back to Panama City. He found a small computer repair shop that would get the harddisk out of the laptop. Then we went to the Albrook mall, one of the large shopping malls here to buy a new one. Electronics are fairly cheap in Panama, cheaper than Germany or Costa Rica. But even though we went to several stores, the choices were very limited. I wanted a Lenovo since they have a reputation for good built quality but most laptops they had for sale were – you guessed it – Sony Vaios. Eventually, I decided for a cheap model for 450€ with 6GB or RAM and 1TB hard disk. It’s not as compact and fast as the old one and the screen isn’t that great either but for that price I don’t care as long as I have some computer to work with. Oh, and the keyboard and operating systems are all in Spanish, yeay. This should speed up my attempt to learn Spanish considerably, ha. I’d have to upgrade to Windows Pro for $140 to be able to change the language, so I’ll just leave it for now.

    I must admit without a computer I felt a little amputated. It took me a day to copy all the files and install the most important programs (thanks to Adobe Creative Cloud and Ninite) and now that feeling has vanished.

  • August1st

    Sony Vaio Screen

    107 pixels of darkness

    Oh no! My overpriced, yet beloved, Sony Vaio Z laptop is in need of some repair …AGAIN! This is the third time I need to send it in within less than two years. This is a top-of-the-line laptop, I start wondering if Sony closed it’s quality control department years ago. It all started a couple of months ago when one vertical row of pixels went dead. Yes, that is exactly the same problem I sent in the laptop for last year. Well, one row of dead pixels in the center of the screen is pretty annoying. But because my warranty is valid in the U.S.. and Germany but not in Costa Rica, I kept working with that annoyance, trying to ignore it. Apparently, my laptop doesn’t like getting ignored (who does). so when I woke up one day I found 107 rows of dead pixels. In the center of the screen. It looks like someone stuck some gaffer tape across the screen. That’s not cool and impossible to ignore. Conveniently, the warranty expires within a few weeks – before I return to Germany. I hope I can convince Sony Support that it’s okay to report the damage now but let them repair it in December. If I get lucky, I get to talk to that Indian call center boy from last year again who asked me to translate Rammstein songs for him…

    Perhaps Sony’s quality control is not to blame and my laptop just loves traveling as much as his owner does and wants to be sent to one of the Sony repair centers in the U.S. or Germany. But I will not do him that favor.

    PS. Guys, I don’t want to read any “You should have bought a Mac” comments below. Don’t jeopardize your lives…

  • December18th

    As you may or may not know, I am making a living and pay for my travels with my science illustration work. It’s not exactly making me a rich man. So, I am always looking out for alternative ways of making money. No, don’t worry, I have dismissed the idea of smuggling cocaine in my anus across the Colombian border… But it has always been my wish to generate some income from my traveling. Writing has never really been my thing (despite this blog), I am more of a visual person. And I have taken tons of photos this year. So, I was thinking of offering some of the nicer ones on a stock photography site.

    Read More | Comments

  • August29th

    My future room? I love this style but this guy will have to move out first... (from the now! furniture catalog)

    My future room back in Germany?

    Yes, you read correctly – working and living. My time here in Costa Rica is very different from the kind of nomadic lifestyle I followed the past couple of months. After eight months of travelling I started to get tired in some ways. Moving to a new hostel every other day, figuring out where to find a good place to eat, laundry, an ATM that accepts my credit card, places to go out, and meeting new people and tell them the same story all over again. Don’t get me wrong, I still love to travel, but I just got a little tired. And I started to miss certain things. For example my own place. Since January I don’t have a home anymore. Over the last two months this desire for a permanent home has been growing. Eventually, I fell victim to the IKEA nesting instinct and started browsing online furniture catalogs and imagined how I will decorate my future home once this trip is over. My favorite one is the now! no.12 (here is the full pdf version). I checked apartment listings online although I won’t move to any place before May next year. And in my mind I already assembled my next desktop computer, carefully choosing every component. Ha, it’s going to be super fast and gets a new ultra-cool case. I even checked out reviews for vacuum cleaners (I’ll get this one). No kidding!

    Yes, I needed this break. I rented a room in a house in San Sebastian (just South of the capital San José) where I could work without hassles. It felt a lot like home. It was very safe, clean (okay, that part did not remind me of my place in Heidelberg) and with all utilities and facilities I could possibly need (even a gym! …that I never used). For the first time in months I cooked my own dinner. My landlady Vilma was very friendly and motherly to me and even cooked for me a few times. I got spoilt. But I got much work done this month and my financial situation looks better now. This was a good balance to all the non-stop travelling over the past months and I start getting this feeling of wanting to ‘move on’ again.

  • January18th

    Thirty Two

    Posted in: Articles, Work

    Birthday party: My professor corrects my poorly written publication revisions

    My professor and me at my birthday party – working

    This week one day I suddenly happened to feel old(er). For some reason I get this feeling once every year in January. This is already the second birthday I celebrate in Knoxville, Tennessee. It’s a bit sad that most of my friends are living in other parts of this world. However, I am happy to have gotten so much mail form all of you. It’s a nice feeling to not be forgotten although I am not around anymore 🙂
    The party was rather small, my PhD advisor Jeremy and me went over some corrections (how exciting) of the revisions of my recent publication, everyone brought beer and wine but nobody drank any since they all came by car (I did though, ha) and then there was poor Xiaohu with his usual paranoiac anxiety attacks. Pavan generously contributed entertaining stories and Loukas and me prepared some not-too-bad Chili con Carne that was worth at least half a Michelin star. I have no idea how I am supposed to finish all the leftover beer during the next 10 days that I will be in Knoxville…