a nerd goes camping

Last weekend, through a conjunction of what turned out to be happy accidents, I experienced my first two information-technology-free days in eight years.

Last weekend, through a conjunction of what turned out to be happy accidents, I experienced my first two information-technology-free days in eight years.

To my surprise, they turned out to not half-bad at all, and I have the bone-headedness of electrical engineers to thank for them.

As even semi-regular readers of this column already know, I am a certified and unrepentant technology nerd.

My wife, who was with me over the course of those two days, tells me I can keep the “nerd” word to myself, so I can more diplomatically describe her as a digital enthusiast.

Together, we were two IT-junkies getting organized for a camping trip, featuring two overnight stops at Twin Lakes and then Moose Creek campgrounds, on our way to Dawson City.

While we did intend to “rough it” a bit in a tent we still hadn’t figured out how to assemble, it was not really our intention to retire our electronic devices.

I had my iPod and iPad and Blackberry phone stored away in my day pack; and my wife, who was working on some English-to-Portuguese translations of some academic essays, was bringing along her laptop for work purposes.

Our troubles arose when we tried to get our equipment together to make sure we could keep these things powered up – and herein lies the seed of my story.

I had secured a two-port cigarette-lighter charger for my USB devices, and purchased a generic cigarette-lighter adapter for my wife’s Dell; but our plans ran afoul of the engineering bone-headedness I mentioned heretofore.

In my wife’s case, the Dell would not accept any of the available socket adapters provided by the charger system – she needed a proprietary adapter from Dell itself, it seems.

In my case, my own absent mindedness was a contributing factor to my techno-frustration: I forgot to bring along the proprietary USB connecting cables provided by both Apple and RIM, so I was stuck with whatever power I happened to have already in the batteries of my equipment.

My solution was to turn off all the devices, with the idea I would only turn them on only for the relatively short periods when I might want to listen to some music or read an e-book, or check my emails when I hit areas where there was cellular service.

As it transpired – with the sole exception of a single email check in Carmacks – I found I never had cause to turn any of those devices back on – I was having too much fun more or less roughing it – such as the hour or so my wife and I spent figuring out how to assemble that little tent, without benefit of instructions.

I should explain that, though I am a frequent and enthusiastic day-hiker, I am not much of a distance trekker or camper.

As I said, it had been eight years since I had last gone through any kind of woodland expedition that took me out of range of the IT world I habitually live in.

That time, it was my one and so far only trek with a friend over the Chilkoot Trail, when I was more intent of the fact that I had just given up smoking on the first day of that trip than on the fact that I was going through IT deprivation.

For one thing, information technology was easier to get away from, in those days and therefore easier to do without.

There were no iPod or iPods to put in your pack in those days.

There were PDA’s (personal digital assistants, for the younger and less technologically initiated among you), and I had one, in the form of a Palm Pilot Iliac; but they were not much by way of an information medium for anything more advanced than keeping track of phone numbers.

There were cellphones – and, again, I had one, in 2003 – but they were pretty basic affairs, and cell service was analog-only, expensive, and restricted to Whitehorse (and with large areas of service-failure even there).

All that has changed, for good or ill, over the interceding years, but one thing has not: The electronics industry persists in producing devices that, for no good reason, require custom-made AC power adapters.

The European Union recently took a salutary lead in passing rules requiring harmonization of chargers for cell phones sold in their area of jurisdiction.

I think the time has come for similar rules to be passed in the Americas, too – and extended beyond just cellphones, to all portable electronic devices.

That kind of legislation would save us all a lot of hassle, confusion and money, and spare the environment a lot of wasted wiring and transformers.

It might also cost me my occasional weekend of technology-free holidays, of course; but I am ready, in this case, to take one for the team.

Rick Steele is a technology junkie who lives in Whitehorse.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Former CEO of Great Canadian Gaming, actress charged after flying to Beaver Creek for COVID-19 vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Are they coming?

One of COVID-19’s big economic questions is whether it will prompt a… Continue reading

Yukon MP Larry Bagnell, along with Yukon health and education delegates, announce a new medical research initiative via a Zoom conference on Jan. 21. (Screen shot)
New medical research unit at Yukon University launched

The SPOR SUPPORT Unit will implement patient-first research practices

Yukon First Nation Education Directorate members Bill Bennett, community engagement coordinator and Mobile Therapeutic Unit team lead, left, and Katherine Alexander, director of policy and analytics, speak to the News about the Mobile Therapeutic Unit that will provide education and health support to students in the communities. (yfned.ca)
Mobile Therapeutic Unit will bring education, health support to Indigenous rural students

The mobile unit will begin travelling to communities in the coming weeks

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment in Faro photgraphed in 2016. Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old building currently accommodating officers. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Faro RCMP tagged for new detachment

Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old… Continue reading

In a Jan. 18 announcement, the Yukon government said the shingles vaccine is now being publicly funded for Yukoners between age 65 and 70, while the HPV vaccine program has been expanded to all Yukoners up to and including age 26. (1213rf.com)
Changes made to shingles, HPV vaccine programs

Pharmacists in the Yukon can now provide the shingles vaccine and the… Continue reading

Parking attendant Const. Ouellet puts a parking ticket on the windshield of a vehicle in downtown Whitehorse on Dec. 6, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is hoping to write of nearly $300,000 in outstanding fees, bylaw fines and court fees, $20,225 of which is attributed to parking fines issued to non-Yukon license plates. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City of Whitehorse could write off nearly $300,000

The City of Whitehorse could write off $294,345 in outstanding fees, bylaw… Continue reading

Grants available to address gender-based violence

Organizations could receive up to $200,000

In this illustration, artist-journalist Charles Fripp reveals the human side of tragedy on the Stikine trail to the Klondike in 1898. A man chases his partner around the tent with an axe, while a third man follows, attempting to intervene. (The Daily Graphic/July 27, 1898)
History Hunter: Charles Fripp — gold rush artist

The Alaskan coastal town of Wrangell was ill-equipped for the tide of… Continue reading

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. While Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis is now setting his sights on the upcoming territorial election, other members of council are still pondering their election plans for the coming year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillors undecided on election plans

Municipal vote set for Oct. 21

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decicions made by Whitehorse city council this week.

A file photo of grizzly bear along the highway outside Dawson City. Yukon conservation officers euthanized a grizzly bear Jan. 15 that was originally sighted near Braeburn. (Alistair Maitland/Yukon News file)
Male grizzly euthanized near Braeburn

Yukon conservation officers have euthanized a grizzly bear that was originally sighted… Continue reading

Most Read