Travel Tech for my 10 days of travel with my parents to Germany, Austria, Czech Republic and Italy before and after 2019 Veeam Vanguard Summit in Prague

Posted by Paul Braren on Oct 9 2019 (updated on Oct 13 2019) in
  • Backup
  • Review
  • This article will be updated over the next few weeks with comments added about which items worked well and which didn't work out so well, along with some photos.

    travel-tech-2018

    See also last year's

    Veeam Vanguard 2015 to 2019

    Back in July, a very exciting email arrived from Rick Vanover at Veeam:

    From: Rick Vanover
    Date: July 16, 2019 at 6:06:47 AM CDT
    To: Rick Vanover
    Subject: Veeam Vanguard Communications - New People, RSVP for Vanguard Summit
    Hey Vanguards! ... we are well underway planning for the cornerstone experience as a Vanguard, the 2019 Annual Veeam Vanguard Summit in Prague, Czech Republic.

    I’ve been writing about Veeam backup software for years, and Veeam Agent for Windows actually saved my bacon many times. I've also submitted a lot of product feedback over the years, and even did some beta testing. It's such an honor to be in this invite-only program for my fifth year!

    Like last year, I had heard about Vanguards going to Prague again this year, but I really wasn't sure it would work out, given my new job. Not unless it was an actual possibility for me personally did I want to get excited about this. Turns out it all worked out, I'm taking PTO, and off I go!

    The Veeam Vanguard Summit runs from Monday October 14 to Thursday October 17.

    Disclosure

    Veeam paid for my flight and hotel, as they do for all Veeam Vanguard Summit attendees. I'm grateful for the opportunity to learn about their latest developments, and for the opportunity to spend time with so many distinguished bloggers and podcasters from across the world. Check out the list of Veeam Vanguards! More disclosure details below.

    Why Newark to Munich?

    featured

    In a word, it was actually cheaper flying to Munich than into Prague. BDL and BOS had no direct flights, and the costs were nearly double. So a one-way rental car gets us to Newark in 2.5 hrs, no biggie, and another one-way rental back again. Long term parking there would be a similar price, actually.

    european-vacation

    My dad has wanted to get to Florence Italy for many years, and is of German descent, his parents from Insel Fohr. My mom is very much into art, and I'm into architecture. My parents lived in Germany for over 3 years when he was in the US Army, so I'll be showing them their old apartment in Munich. This trip of mine to EU turned out to be a great opportunity for me to get to spend some time with the both of them on quite the adventure. You know, like a tamer version of the Griswold's on European Vacation.


    TRAVEL TECHNOLOGY

    Here's the technology that will help make this trip a bit smoother, with only a few items I was able to re-use from last year. The focus here was on travel safety and comfort, affordable internet on-the-go, and the ability to blog in a pinch from hotel rooms.


    EU SIM Card

    orange-holiday-sim-card

    Originally I briefly considered taking our 3 Verizon service iPhones to EU as-is, using the Verizon TravelPass International Travel Plan, I quickly reconsidered. At $10 per day per phone, it only allows 1/2GB data per day before throttling to 3G speeds. Also, each border crossing would incur another $10 charge, per phone. No thank you. Found this out the hard way last year with two phones, not interested in that again with 3 phones this trip.

    I went with buying 2 of these instead, one to go into one of my parent's iPhones so they could call emergency services if needed when I'm not with them in Prague, and the other into a WiFi Hotspot we'll be sharing when together.

    Travel WiFi Hotspot

    B071NXCG6W
    Probably returning this.

    Huawei E5785Lh-22c 300 Mbps 4G LTE Mobile WiFi (4G LTE in Europe, Asia, Middle East, Africa & 3G Globally. 12 hrs Working, Original OEM Item) (White)

    I decided to just put the two Orange nano SIMs into two of our iPhones, since the Huawei product had rather absurd EULAs for the app and for updates, wanting to know my location. It also kept redirecting some of my devices to the login page instead of the intended web destination, which wasn't easily fixed. I'll likely return it, so it's back to my GL.iNet for use when in the hotel room in Prague.

    Last year in this same hotel with this same router, I got free WiFi speeds of 3.73 MBps down / 4.15 up and paid WiFi speeds of 11.78 Mbps down / 11.62 up. This year, I brought an ethernet cable along for he WAN connection, and I'm now sharing out 30Mbps down and 30Mbps up for our devices.

    B07GBXMBQF
    Shop for item B07GBXMBQF on Amazon.

    Allows me to easily share out the one hotel connection that I pay to upgrade to higher speeds. Like, bumping from 3.73 MBps down / 4.15 up to 11.78 Mbps down / 11.62 up.

    The market for these devices is odd in the US. AT&T and Verizon want you to buy their Hotspots and sign-up for their pricey and limited service abroad, no thank you. The unlocked devices out there on Amazon and the like don't tend to come with the brand names you're used to, at least not the ones intended for travel across Europe. The better battery life and the ability share out the hotel WiFi and the prepaid SIM card cinched the deal and got me to try my first Huawei product. Yeah, this brand isn't exactly popular in the US for a variety of political and technical reasons, but there really didn't seem to be any suitable alternatives either. I plan to use a VPN for all my traffic anyway. If this device doesn't work out, I'll just put the Nano SIM into an iPhone and use it as a hotspot.


    USB-C Mobile Charger Battery - RAVPower

    Nice fast charging, especially when using a USB C to Lightning cable for a quick boost to my iPhone 11 Pro Max.

    B077CY4M8P
    Shop for item B077CY4M8P on Amazon.

    USB-C Car Charger - Anker

    Nice fast charging, especially when using a USB C to Lightning cable for a quick boost to my iPhone 11 Pro Max.

    B07RL2N8YY
    Shop for item B071WYF9HP on Amazon.

    USB-C to Lighting Cable - Apple

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    Shop for item MQGJ2AM/A at Apple Store.

    In early 018, I tried a 3rd party USB-C cable in the vehicle, and that didn't work well at all, about 1/5th the speed of the Apple cable, which charges at an amazing rate of roughly 1% per minute. Yes, even when driving with the GPS running. I may try other brands this year such as this Anker cable, as they're supposed to now work at full speeds, we'll see.


    Air Vent Cell Phone Mount

    Not the best option out there, but it does tend to hug the dashboard better than most, allowing the phone to stay relatively still on those bumpy roads.

    B07NPK3V6R

    I also have my old Aikema mount with me, but it's not on Amazon any more, here's one from APPS2Car that looks very similar in design and function, with nice tight vent clamping.


    Power Strip (that I can also use in the US)

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    USB C and USB A and Power Strip

    Used with one of the adapters listed above, it's rated for AC 100–240V, so this will work nicely on the desk where my laptop will go with its autoswitching power supply. It should also nice and fast DC charging of my mobile device too, without the bricks.

    B07XJ4ZX55

    iPhone XS 11 Pro Max

    iPhone-11-Pro-Max
    iPhone 11 Pro Max seen at right.

    Sure am glad I got this new phone before the trip, with a big leap forward in photo technology, as you can see in my many 0.5X lense and low-light demonstration photos that I've recently tweeted.

    I'm quite pleased the timing worked out, and like year, I'm planning to share some of my travel pictures below this article. Unlike Twitter, in full-resolution. Having that big OLED display is just awesome. Thanks to excellent results without a tripod, I won't be bothering to fly with one this year, at least not one that's full size.


    GoPro HERO7 Black

    B07GDGZCCH
    GoPro HERO7 Black

    I may use this in the manual transmission rental car (thank you for teaching me how to drive a stick shift, Dad), but only if the weather is good and the car has a suitable place to mount it. I've found it to be a bit unstable during prolonged video shoots such as timelapse, but I managed to get some pretty good in-car footage anyway.

    If you're in the market for such a device, I'd strongly recommend waiting for the GoPro HERO8 Black instead. Those built-in fold out feet for the special GoPro mounts avoid the need for that clumsy outer shell.

    B07WSRXMS8
    GoPro Hero8 Black

    Credit Cards and Apple Pay

    apple-pay-plus-visa-logo--TinkerTry

    I've got my Visa card, as well as American Express, which is much less useful in Europe. If I try to use my Apple Pay backed by American Express, the charge is often declined in Europe, so I then fall back to Apple Pay backed by my Visa instead.


    FlightAware

    2019-10-10_21-29-47

    Their iOS app is invaluable, helps me keep tabs on what's happening with my flight status including the status of the the inbound plan my flight will be using, and the weather radar map superimposed along the planned and actual route, on any airline.

    Download FlightAware Flight Tracker on Apple Store or Google Play.


    Dual Factor / MFA (turn off SMS)

    2019-10-10_21-36-04

    Change Twitter from SMS to Mobile security app, as described by Twitter.

    Since I won't be using my US SIM card while abroad, I'd rather be able to login in using Google Authenticator instead.

    I already took care of doing this for the rest of my accounts last year.


    Lenovo Yoga 13 - my "dumb terminal" to be used mostly for RDP back to my lab

    yoga13
    Yoga 13, of 2013 vintage.
    • freshly installed Windows 10 1903 from bootable USB created using Microsoft's Create Windows 10 installation media utility
    • ran Windows Update and reboot until there are no more updates
    • disabled crummy USB 2 based onboard 2.4GHz WiFi adapter in Device Manager
    • installed OURLINK 802.11AC WiFi adapter, manually update the Realtek driver to 1030.38.712.2019, then change the properties of the adapter to 802.11ac mode (from default Auto, which locked me into 2.4GHz)
    • ran speedtest from dslreports.com/speedtest to be sure I'm getting expected throughput on my fast home connection
    • configured and test VPN
    • installed Veeam Agent 3.02.1170 and used my Workstation Edition license key, created recovery media, and performed a backup to my network
    • turned "Tap to Click" off on the tray icon, then pressed the hotkey to disable the TrackPad
    • enable Hibernate, since the battery in this old laptop no longer works, but I want to be able to pick up where I leave off anyway
    asus-zenscreen-secondary-travel-monitor

    Of course, I'll also bring my ASUS ZenScreen MB16AC as a secondary display, a huge productivity booster.

    I have little concern about theft or the data on it. Admittedly, a mere 13" display with only 1600 x 900 pixels isn't ideal, but it's just my "dumb" terminal used to do an occasional bit of blogging while far away, such as writing this article from 4,064 miles away, to be exact. How? Read onward...


    Duo Authentication for Windows Logon and RDP

    See also

    mfa-it-up-a-notch-add-an-extra-layer-of-security-to-a-jump-box-with-duo-mfa

    rdp

    If you leave a Windows VM running, and register your home's cable modem with a service like noip.com, and you configure port forwarding from port 443 to port 3389, you too can get reasonably secure temporary access to your home network. You wouldn't want to run it fulltime, but did you know that there's a free roll-your-own two factor security option that I've been using for over a year now? You can read all about exactly how one implements this dual factor (multi-factor, MFA) access to your home lab at Duo here:

    Recently, Cisco acquired Duo, so I wonder how much longer I'll be able to do this for free, but it works very well. I launch a shortcut on my Taskbar that opens a saved RDP connection, and moments later I force-touch the phone pop-up to Accept. If my iPhone (works with iOS or Android) happens to be locked, the prompt will show up on my watch instead. Awesome!

    This video below was recorded in October of 2018 in my hotel room in Prague 4,064 miles from my home lab. Before leaving, I set port 443 to forward to port 3389 to the IP address of my static reservation Windows 10 VM using my Ubiquiti EdgeRouter Lite, and I only light up that forwarding rule when I need it by connecting over VPN first. I've also created an RDP connection on my older/slower Lenovo Yoga laptop, using a fake hostname by editing my hostfile, to obfuscate my actual connection's details. Finally, I'm using Duo Authentication for Windows Logon and RDP, which is currently free, to allow dual factor / MFA access to that VM. Note that Cisco recently acquired Duo, so I'm not sure that this feature will continue to be free.

    Since my iPhone was locked while recording this video, you'll see that I'm prompted to accept the RDP connection from my Apple Watch (2nd Gen.), which is very handy. Normally this prompt appears in under a second, but in this video, you'll see the latency and poor speed of my hotel WiFi meant the authentication prompt took a little longer. FYI, using Duo Mobile from the Apple Store on a compatible Apple iPhone, you can use force touch to click on the Duo "Approve" option.

    Duo Mobile can be installed on Android too from Google Play.

    Duo Authentication for Windows Logon and RDP - roll-your-own two factor demo of home lab access

    See also at Tinkertry

    travel-tech-2018

    mfa-it-up-a-notch-add-an-extra-layer-of-security-to-a-jump-box-with-duo-mfa

    iphone-x-accessories

    Social

    Follow along at #VanguardTakeover.

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    Photos

    Stay tuned, coming soon!


    Disclosure

    Paul-Braren-Veeam-Vanguard-Program3
    Veeam Vanguard Program.

    TinkerTry.com, LLC is not a Veeam Pro Partner, but I am a Veeam Vanguard Program member who received travel assistance getting to VeeamOn 2017, and Veeam Vanguard Summits 2018 and 2019. Veeam has been an advertiser on many virtualization sites for years now, and Veeam had a BuySellAds-purchased advertisement along the top of TinkerTry as well, but that was longer than 12 months ago.

    All TinkerTry advertisement goes through third party BuySellAds. None of my articles are sponsored posts, and there are currently no affiliate links for Veeam Endpoint Backup FREE, or any of their other products. There are no commissions for any Veeam products folks buy after reading one of my articles.

    TinkerTry takes extreme care to protect visitors by using only one ad network, BuySellAds, which has never had a security issue to date, and is very commonly used in the virtualization blogger community. Their CEO seems to get what's going on with ad blockers, evident in his recent post. I regularly receive lucrative offers from various companies looking to have me inject JavaScript trackers into TinkerTry, which I of course turn down.

    I reserve and exercise the right to freely write about topics that I choose, whenever I choose to, an essential part of what makes blogging about home virtualization labs, storage, and backup so much fun for me. I tend to feature articles about stuff I actually use.