The appeal of ultra-portable computers is kinda self-explanatory: they’re ultra portable! Or that’s the idea, at least – the combination of light weight and low profile means you can take them just about anywhere. Anywhere? Well, let’s see. In conjunction with our friends at Samsung, we’ve equipped one of our intrepid editors – specifically, Music Editor and general man-about-Flavorpill Tom Hawking – with the new Samsung Series 9 laptop and sent him off on a trip likely to really put the machine through its paces: a journey through Africa for three weeks! This week we’re publishing his adventures: he started off in Cairo, trundled through Addis Ababa, and now he’s in Dar Es Salaam, avoiding ferry disasters and lapping up Tanzanian hip hop.
“If you can drive in Dar Es Salaam,” says my taxi driver cheerfully as he peers at the chaos in front of us through an extravagantly cracked windshield, “you drive anywhere!”
In front of us, a slightly flustered lady is attempting to reverse a four-wheel drive back up the unsealed city street where my hotel is located in order to allow our car to pass. Her task is made rather more difficult by the fact that there are about three lanes of traffic crammed into the narrow street behind her, along with another two lanes of parked cars, several bicycles, two motorbikes, and a steady stream of pedestrians, including a guy with a huge bag of some sort of foodstuff balanced on his head, another guy with one of those long two-wheeled cart type things laden with what appear to be televisions, and several dudes from the local street food vendor offering different opinions about which way she should turn her steering wheel. There are tooting horns aplenty, but no sign of aggression or frustration from anyone involved — the general impression is of an impromptu quorum debating the solution to a giant version of one of those puzzles where you have to unscramble a picture by sliding one piece around at a time.
Eventually, there’s the inevitable dull thud as the 4WD lady backs into one of the parked cars. She throws up her hands in disgust. My driver grins ruefully and claps his hand on my shoulder as he maneuvers the car deftly through the sliver of space she’s managed to vacate. “Very difficult to drive here, my friend,” he chuckles. “Very much traffic. Very many people.”