With the train full of innovators, geeks and communication enthusiasts, there’s nowhere to hide – not even in Siberia.
The environment is pretty hostile, as our external communications rely on GSM/EDGE/3G network and we don’t have a satellite phone with us. The data network coverage is good enough only within the cities and the data costs are quite high, so constant IRC-chatting(*), Facebooking or Twittering are not viable options.
If you like, you can find our position on a map though a stand-alone GPS transponder. That’s basically a small, orange box taped on a window facing south. It receives our location and sends it back through a communications satellite, and the locations are then plotted on Google Maps.
We also use a new “voice microblogging” service called Talky, which allows us to post short messages on the website with a phone call – it doesn’t require data network. Talky helps us to be more connected, but still requires us to have GSM connection, which is not available everywhere along the tracks, although a satellite phone would solve that as well. However, using Talky is a fun experiment, and everyone in the world can actually hear voices from the train in real time (good and bad).
You can find both the location map and the latest Talkys at www.aaltoontracks.com/talky
(*) We actually are using IRC on the train, it’s just not connected to a server…