Saturday, September 16, 2006

Traveling and Gadgets

On my trip this week, I found it interesting that my Gadgets and need for information have become so pervasive, yet I only notice just how dependent I am on them in those few moments at takeoff and landing that I am utterly deprived of them.

For instance, here was my trip:
  • Drove to San Jose in my car. Talked on my Bluetooth headset and Sony Ericsson phone for part of the trip; other times, I was listening to podcasts on my Palm TX.
  • At the airport, I parked, and connected with my Palm's browser, over my phone's GPRS connection, via Bluetooth, to to get my boarding pass, from the parking lot.
  • At the airport, got my email over the same connection on my Palm.
  • Boarded the plane, and read the San Francisco Chronicle on my Palm that I had downloaded that morning, thanks to Sunrise XP and Plucker.
  • The dreaded "turn off anything with an on/off switch" announcement. Nothing to do but read the damned SkyMall catalog.
  • 10K feet! Out comes the laptop, so I can dither the presentation I'm giving in Austin.
  • Ok, PPT is done, email has been answered: time to relax. Laptop goes away; out come the Sony noise-cancelling headphones; on goes V for Vendetta, on my Palm.
  • Time to land. The dreaded announcement again.
  • Landed. Cellphone comes on, check the messages that came in while I was in the air.
  • In the terminal, consult my Palm for the car rental information I had done. Pick up the luggage, and head to the car.
  • Palm has the directions to the hotel. I chat with Amy on the Bluetooth headset while I drive.
  • At the hotel, fire up the laptop and attempt to use the room's internet. Of course, it's not working. After an hour of effort, I head to the lobby to use the free wireless internet there. Email and assorted other work, and I'm done.

Next day:
  • Head to the Denny's on the other side of the parking lot for some breakfast. Wifi provided at every table, so I catch up on my email and the news, courtesy of my Palm and Google Reader. Apple's big "Showtime" event is today, and the gadget blogs are a'buzzing over the possibilities. I realize I will be in my meetings when it happens…argh.
  • Ok, time to work. Head to the Four Seasons in Austin, with the directions from my Palm. Not sure if I am in the right place, so I fire up Google Local on my phone; yup, map shows it's the right place.
  • Work: we dither the PPT and add another, as well as rehearse the web demo I will be doing. Doubletree: free wifi; Four Seasons: $10. Argh.
  • Presentation goes off without a hitch, but my laptop is making some odd grinding sounds when tilted in certain directions. I'm a bit worried; this laptop has been a champ for me (except for the peanut from Southwest that has permanently lodged in the Enter key. Grrr…)
  • Dash to the airport to make the flight. Of course, I've already checked in yesterday, courtesy of, so I'm group A. Yay! I pass not just one, but TWO barbeque places. 3 times in Austin, and never found any BBQ; now I find two, and I have no time to eat it. Sigh…
  • Made the flight, with minutes to spare. This time, I threw away all my toiletries so I could bring my bag as carry-on. Gotta love that ban on liquids and gels.
  • 10K feet. Time to tackle the email that has come in, with the laptop. Nice not to have new email coming in while I respond and deal with the email that I pulled down while I was at the Four Seasons.
  • OK, my work is done. Out come the noise-cancelling headphones, and time to watch Capricorn One, one of my favorite flicks, on the laptop's big wide screen.
  • About an hour in to the flight, and the movie freezes. The laptop says it no longer recognizes the disc. I try various things, including restarts, but only limited success. And there's that grinding noise again. I give up, and put it away.
  • On my Palm I catch up on my Plucker content, including Kevin Smith's blog, Mark Cuban's blog, Pete's blog, Lani's blog, a new Sports Guy article, and more.
  • I'm done with Plucker, so I fire up QuickNews to read some RSS feeds from Engadget and Gizmodo. Damn! I missed the Steve Jobs event, and I didn’t update. Wonder what he unveiled?
  • OK, time to land in San Diego. The flight path in SD is so strange: you fly practically through the city. For instance, we flew maybe ¼ mile past the Museum where, just weeks ago, I was at. I could see the table we sat at El Paseo for lunch! Wish I could take a picture, but no electronics allowed at landing…
  • On the ground in San Diego, I use QuickNews on the Palm to connect and update through my cell's GPRS connection. In moments, I have a full play by play of the Apple event, courtesy of Engadget. Battery on the cell is getting dangerously low, but I make a call or two.
  • Heading back into the air. You know you have been flying too much when, in these moments of being forced to occupy yourself with only what’s around you, and you read the airline's magazine, you actually know the articles that the "letters to the editor" are referring to. I think Dante reserved a special level of hell for that, and it is shaped like an airplane seat.
  • 10K feet. Gorgeous view of the California coastline. I'm devouring the Apple event on the Palm, line by line. New iPods…eh. New iTunes…sounds cool, especially CoverFlow view. Movies on iTunes…not bad, but since I can only watch them on the computer and not my Palm, I'm still not impressed. "Oh, just one more thing…" finally…and a surprise. iTV sounds great, but not until January? Might change my whole opinion of iTunes Movies. We'll see!
  • Short flight, but I read some more of Iron Sunrise, by Charles Stross, on my Palm's eReader. Did I mention the battery is at 50%, even with all of this use? Nice to keep that bright screen low on these trips.
  • San Jose, here I am. I return a call from my father, while simultaneously checking in for my LA flight tomorrow, with
  • Back to the car, a last phone call before the battery dies, and I'm driving home, listening to my podcasts in my car, in time for dinner for our anniversary.

And that's a typical business trip I do. See why I need those gadgets? ;-)

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