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Equipment Guidelines

Cell Phones

Cell phone service is excellent in most parts of Asia, and especially China. Indeed, it is much more common to have cell phones in China than in the US, for example. Thus it is very affordable and practical to get your own cell phone service while traveling so that people can easily reach you, and so you can easily reach others. However, there are some things to keep in mind as detailed herein. Where do I get Cell service?

The first thing to understand is that whatever “global plan” your domestic cell phone company may offer to use your phone in other countries is USELESS.The phone company will charge you outrageous rates for “roaming” service. Thus unless you just want an emergency contact phone number, what you will want to do is purchase a cell phone account in the country in which you are traveling. The latter is typically pretty easy and can be done without any long term commitment, but rather on the basis of recharging the account with cash payments as you use up your minutes. Can I use my ordinary phone?

It is possible that you could use your ordinary phone, and simply switch the internal card which provides cell service - a small square card called the “Sim card”. However, there are several things to keep in mind to assess whether you will be able to use your own phone. Firstly, all phones are not all the same but rather each is hard wired to work with a specific type of cellular system. Most of the world uses a system called GSM (including China), and thus when traveling to those countries, your phone will only work if it is a GSM phone. The USA in particular uses various cellular systems, and GSM, while growing in use, is not nearly as dominant as elsewhere. So the first step in figuring out if your phone is useful while traveling, is to see if it is GSM. Also please note that GSM comes in different frequencies, and so you want a phone that is triband or quadband to cover all the relevant frequencies.

Secondly, if your phone actually is GSM, the next thing to verify is whether it is “unlocked”. In many countries, and especially the USA, cell phone companies sell your cell phones that are “locked” so that they will only work with their services. Such companies have different policies about whether or not they will unlock the phones - some will never do it, others require you have been their customer for a set number of months, and so forth.

If you can meet the first two criteria, then all you need to do is open up the phone and usually you will find the Sim card located under the battery. Take out the old one (keeping it for use when you return home), and put in the new Sim card that the foreign service provider gives to you. The phone should work right away. What about email on my phone?

It is possible to get email through Gmail, etc. on a China based cell phone service. We do not at present have details. If you want to bring your present phone and get email through your domestic service, please be appraised that Blackberry can be a great deal. Usually your cell phone service provider charges a set rate for the time you are gone to give you unlimited email access. However, if you have a “smart phone”, please note that typically that is very different - instead you are charged per useage, which if you are not careful can quickly become very expensive. Smartphones also allow you to access internet services and resources though wireless connection. Provided you find a free hotspot (hotel, etc) you will be able to read and send email for free.

External Hard Drives

As of December 2009, VCP is using LaCie external hard drives: 1TB and 4 TB external hard drives. 1TB are for use in the field and in archives. 4TB are for office use and permanent backup.

See the page External Hard Drives: Type to Purchase and Format for Access for both Mac and Windows for purchase information

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In view of the large quantity of image processing and mapping the VCP requires, we recommend monitors not smaller then 21“. Ideally, a 23” or 24“ format is most appropriate.

There is not need to use a larger screen, except for those doing actual GIS work, in which case a 27-30” monitor is required.


Most people these days use digital cameras for their ease of use. However, if you are aiming to take high quality photos for longterm use, then you need to keep a number of issues in mind.

Firstly, you can roughly divided cameras into two types: (i) consumer cameras which typically are cheaper, small, light weigh, have a fixed lens, take smaller storage size photos, and will only save images in the lower quality JPEG format, and (ii) prosumer and professional cameras which more expensive, large, relatively heavy, have replaceable lens, take larger storage size photos, and can save images in the high quality and flexible RAW format. If you have the funds, you may want to have one of each because the former is great to carry with you at all times to be able to catch the opportune moment, while the latter creates superior images for long term use.

Secondly, unless you are on a very short trip, or don't plan to make many photos, you will need to have a way to transfer your images from your camera's storage card so that you can keep using the card to take new pictures once it has initially filled up. The most obvious solution is to travel with your computer and simply transfer the images to it. If that is your plan, make sure your camera has an input bay for the type of card you are using, or purchase a cheap USB device that can accept the storage cards. If you don't want to travel with a computer, then you must have an alternative type of storage device which you can transfer your images to - such as an IPOD or portable self-contained hard drive often called a “digital wallet”.

Thirdly, regardless of what type of camera you have, it is the storage media that will determine how many photos you can take before you must empty the card off onto a separate storage device. You should note that there are many different types of storage formats, though the main ones are SD (secure digital), CF (compact flash), and Sony memory sticks. Cameras usually take one or the other, so you have to purchase storage media that work in the camera which you have. The larger size you have, the more pictures you can take without having to access a computer or portable storage device to empty it. We recommend that you take at least two such cards with you, which mean you can keep shooting when one is filled, and that you also have a backup in case a card goes bad while traveling in places where purchasing a new card is not viable.


Local resources for scanning books and documents are:

A small A4 flatbed scanner is available at Institut d'Asie Orientale.

A Canon XXXX is available at Institut d'Asie Orientale for formats up to A3. The scanner-photocopier can digitize both B&W and color documents at a resolution of XXXdpi. It has fedsheet capacity that we recommend to use for large quantities of documents, provided they mette the standards of quality for sheet feeding.

A Digibook XXXXXX is available in the Media Department of ENS de Lyon. We recommend its use for loose-sheet documents, especially when paper quality does not allow sheet-feeding. It can also be used for digitizing books, provided the book opens well. Yet there will remain a deformation that can be processes digitally. For thick books, however, we recommend using the XXXXX Digibook co-owned by ISH and MOM and located at the MOM (see below). To use the Digibook of the Media Department, a reservation need to be made with the department.

The most sophisticated scanner device is the XXXXXX Digibook located at the MOM.It is a device that requires training before one can use it. ISH can provide a digitization assistant for digitization, but this is a fee-based service. The use of the XXXXX Digibook is not free. There is a daily, weekly and monthly fee, depending on the quantity of materials to be processed.

Sound Recorders

Zoom H4n

Handy mobile 4 track recorder for serious sound recording in the field and on the go.

The H4n features onboard true X/Y stereo microphones to pick up clear, natural sound without phase shifting. The mics can be rotated to select a 90° or 120° recording pattern for terrific versatility. The digitally-controlled preamp, combined with the high-quality microphones, allows you to capture Linear PCM audio at rates up to 24-bit/96kHz. The recorder captures audio to SD or SDHC cards with capacities up to 32GB. A USB 2.0 port allows you to quickly transfer files to a Mac or PC, or use the H4n as a live audio interface.

The H4n can use rechargeable batteries, but it cannot recharge them when plugged in to the AC adapter. Zoom H2

The H2 records your audio onto easily-found SD flash cards with capacities up to 16GB. A 1GB card is included so you can begin recording right away. When a 4GB card is inserted, you can record up to 2 hours of audio at 96kHz, 6 hours at 44.1kHz, or up to 138 hours in MP3 format. The pocket-sized device runs on 2 standard AA batteries to provide up to 4 hours of continuous operation.

Like the H4n, you can use rechargeable batteries, but cannot recharge them when plugged in to the AC adapter.

equipment.txt · Last modified: 2013/05/27 10:07 by chenriot