Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Travel and gadgets

My loyal readers will know that I am attempting to continue writing these posts while I am “on vacation”. Last week I took a flying excursion from my home on the Lefty Coast and flew clear across the country to the edge of the East coast. I hate to fly, but it was a rare opportunity to visit with my only niece and nephew.

Due to my hatred of air travel, it has been many years (20?) since my last flight and many things are different now. A big “for instance” is, on my last flight they did not have to tell us to “turn off all your cellphones, laptops, iPods, PDAs, and all other digital devices.” (I thought, “Yes, please. I don’t want to crash because you’re yakking, about drivel, to your bff.”) The flight crew did not have to tell us this because these things either didn’t exist, or were very rare… not so any more.

Walking through the airport, and on the plane, I was struck by what I observed about my fellow travelers: they (practically) all had laptops, “blackberries”,bb.jpg and cellphones,  and they were all using them. Sometimes all three at once. We have become one cellphone-yakking nation! When people weren’t yakking, they were texting, and when they weren’t yakking/texting, they were reading their voicemails (yes, reading) and emails.
Many further isolated themselves from strangers by having earbuds jammed into their ears, as well. You don’t have to worry about being seated next to a talkaholic (bent on telling you their life story) any longer, you have to worry about your seatmates reading your screen.

In the airport itself — and I had a three-hour “tour” (read, “layover”) of one airport– I noticed another new phenomena: people were avoiding the rows of plastic seats in the “waiting areas” and sitting on floors and grouping in clusters around bare walls in hallways, and generally situating themselves in strange and awkward positions in bizarre locations. Why? Power outlets.
You see, it’s a funny thing; if you run your mouth incessantly, your cellphone dies. And dang-near everyone I saw seemed to be the incessant-talking type. I can go whole days without talking on the phone without any symptoms of withdrawal or other negative effects. In fact, I prefer it.

There were strange looking devices positioned around the airport which were clearly designed to aid the incessant-talker.. and profit from them. These were yellow boards that had 32 different phone  charger plugs sticking out of them, and a dollar bill collection slot. I guess every cellphone manufacturer out there uses a different plug for each make and model of phone, and so you have to have “just the right type”, and I’m sure there’s monetary reasoning behind this idiocy. Anywho.. for $3 an incessant-talker could plug in to the board and charge their phone.
I did not see one person use these chargers. They preferred to lean against the tile walls of the men’s room and get their juice for free.

The trick to taking advantage of electrical outlets, is of course, to carry the charger with you — one for each of your devices. And if your travels are taking you out of the country, you also need an outlet converter. Sometimes, though, an power outlet is not available or handy (or, a fellow traveler has beaten you to it). You can carry a spare battery for your laptop (heavy, bulky, expensive), but what about your phone/walkman/PDA? Fortunately you can carry a battery that will charge other batteries. I think that’s the way to go; charge one to charge many.

There’s a cool device for charging other devices that can itself receive its charge from either an outlet, or by solar power. That’s right, it has unfoldable solar panels, and allows you to recharge your digital devices in a “green” way. It’s small and portable, and it’s a reason to ask for a window seat. It’s called Solio, and if you’re looking for a recharging solution, I suggest you take a look at it. To visit the Solio website, click here.
(And, no. I am not a shill. I have absolutely no vested interest, and I have not received a free charger in exchange. Darn it.)

Today’s free link: I recently was informed about tg.JPGTuneGlue, which is a website that allows you to “discover” new music and artists by linking similar styles. A neat way to find new songs.

It is a dynamic results image, so you get more results the more you query it, or follow the links. So here I started with The Beatles, and next I would click on John Lennon, etc., to find new bands who are similar to, or heavily influenced by, John. It has a surprisingly deep knowledge.

Copyright 2007 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

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October 8, 2007 Posted by | advice, computers, hardware, how to, shopping for, tech | Leave a comment