The signal is better than expected and new applications emerge for the BlackBerry as the No Luggage experiment heads north on a train from Sydney to Newcastle.I've travelled on the Northern Line out of Sydney quite a few times, and one fairly consistent aspect has been the poor and often non-existent mobile signal. I've always assumed that was as much to do with geography as anything else: the train winds through valleys and across unpopulated areas near water, neither of which encourages dense mobile coverage.
That said, the Optus signal on the line was much better than it has ever been before. There were dropouts, but considerably less often (and for shorter duration) than in the past.
My new task for the journey was transcribing sections of an interview I'd done in Sydney earlier in the day with Eugene Kaspersky, founder and CEO of the security software firm that bears his name. Transcription is a painful chore at the best of times; my preferred approach is to record using the LiveScribe Echo digital pen and then type up relevant sections on my PC. For the BlackBerry Torch, I figured it would be a slower process, as I'd have to play a sentence, pause, switch apps, type the sentence, switch back and repeat. I also installed the free VR+ Voice app to replace the built-in Voice Notes recorder, since the latter defaults to stopping recordings after five minutes.
Again, I was pleasantly surprised. While the listen-pause-type approach did initially feel slower, because I didn't try to type in real time and only had to remember brief fragments, I also made far fewer mistakes. I've got more transcription time set aside later in the week, and I feel much better about it than I did 24 hours ago. (I also think I'll buy the full version of VR+ Voice to show my support.)
With the first day of work done, I face a different challenge: the first day of laundry. Tune in Tuesday to see if the fast-drying gear delivers on its promise.
For the No Luggage experiment, Angus Kidman is doing his normal job while travelling Australia for a week with not much more than a BlackBerry. So far, he managed to avoid peak-hour trains.