Shaving Cream or Electric
Saturday, September 30, 2006
I have been recently pondering how to not check my bag. I guess I could go a few days without mouthwash (the real burning stuff, not the lame krep they put on the sink-side at the Hilton) and can use X-brand toothpaste. But I am very particular about my shaving cream as I am ugly enough without razor burn, stubble patches, and a cut. It's my last step before I turn into Shrek-dad.
But electric razors really don't work for me - or have not in the past anyway. These new Hitatchi electrics not only look cool (and similar to a regular razor) but only cost 8,500 yen at Amazon.co.jp, which is either 4,000 or 10 m/s^2, depending on the conversion rate you use.
(Notice that one is apparently available used for only 5,400 yen? Used electric razor, hmmmmm. No)
But what does Hitatchi have to say?
The razor helps close, smooth, and comfortable shaves by rotating continually at a high speed. It also plays at invariable speed, ensuring the overall effectiveness. The rotary washer built-inside helps to keep the razor clean.Yeah, baby, I can shave in Engrish!
We vote it expensible on your next trip to Japan. Just print this posting out and attach it to your expense report.
Oh Canada - Say It Ain't So!
To me the money quote is:
Four Canadian border crossings were shut down Sunday as about 60 of Canada's unarmed border guards walked off the job after they were warned that a person classified as "armed and dangerous" may be headed into Canada.
Good idea - if the guys who should know what to do are running, send in the guys who know how to do PowerPoint.
Faith St. John, an official with the Canada Border Services Agency, told
CTV that management staff has been called in to deal with the huge backlog of
cars and trucks waiting to cross into Canada. "As more managers arrive, more
lanes will be opened," she said.
Reader Email - "You Are A Jerk"
Friday, September 29, 2006
Especially they seem to use us as a target for their resentment about the wanker who is now famous for putting graffiti in his luggage. We consider that a pathetic bid for attention and the act of a juvenile mind, but he's lauded in some anti-TSA circles. Whatever.
Look, I'm no Pollyanna (read the book, don't move your lips too much), but I had a gate agent tell me something very significant, early in my flying career (I paraphrase):
I like how the business guys smile at us, and then sit down and read their
Wall St. Journals, and don't stand around the station trying to argue the
late plane in early.
Hmm, point taken and lesson learned. I think we're all just trying to get somewhere with the least amount of hassle. Yea, verily, even the Wednesday before Thanksgiving!
Eight bucks plus shipping.
TSA Crushes First Amendment
Thursday, September 28, 2006
I'm going to go out on a limb and express my doubts that this incident even happened. I guess if the media picks this up we'll get some confirmation of the facts, but for now this is just an internet rumor started in a forum that loves to bash the TSA. Posting this story was like throwing a lit match into a bucket of gasoline. But we'll assume for now that the one side of the story we've heard is correct.
My take on this is that everybody was wrong. The guy writing "Kip Hawley is a Jerk" on his quart bag did it for one reason only: To initiate a confrontation. If he just wanted to voice a political opinion it would have been far more effective to stand outside the security checkpoint with a placard. But no, he had to jump into the line and hold things up for the people behind him just trying to get on their plane with the minimum of hassle. He's looking for fame and a chance to be belligerent with the TSA officers.
And the TSA officer and supervisor that decided they needed to get local law enforcement involved were way over the top. The TSA officer should have just rolled his eyes at the stupidity of some people, swabbed the bag for explosives, and called for a secondary. Making a big deal out of it just wasn't professional.
But the crowning achievement in all this are the FlyerTalk people who have jumped all over it in a TSA bashing orgy. One poster even compared this guy to Rosa Parks.
All of this because a few people are peeved that they can't bring a full tube of toothpaste on board an aircraft. Given the state of the world, you'd think they could find something more worthwhile to protest.
I just wish the stress level in my life was low enough that something like this could be at the top of my list of things to be upset about.
Bluetooth Laser Virtual Keyboard
With all those buzzwords, what's not to love? Any trip to the Bay Area isn't complete without a swing through Frye's. This was the new hotness. Better yet, this gadget really works!
Standing about 4 inches tall, it projects a virtual keyboard onto a flat surface. It connects to your laptop, phone, or any other bluetooth enabled device. It detects your finger movements to determine which keys you're pressing.
Sure, the QUERTY keyboard on my cell phone is a big improvement over the old style, but having a full sized keyboard in my bag that takes up the same space as a lighter is a no brainer. And completely expensible at $159.99!
Travel Experiment: Be Happy
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
I arrived at the airport with a poor disposition, and I thought of all the complaints we hear on FlyerTalk about how the TSA treats everyone so badly. I was braced for conflict, and then I considered that almost everyone in the travel industry has to deal with people like me on an almost constant basis. No wonder there's so much rudeness. How often are you nice to people when they approach you with a scowl on their face?
So I made a concious effort to smile and be friendly to everyone I came in contact during that trip. The TSA person running the Xray machine was a bit cross with the person in front of me, but smiled and we laughed about something as I put my bags through. No secondary search, and I had my shoes on and off within 20 feet and 30 seconds.
I was in the far back of coach with a middle seat on the ORD-SFO leg, but I made the best of it. Another EXP, two rows ahead and to the right (he had an aisle seat so what's his problem?) was complaining to the FA that he had to pay for the snack box. I wonder what he thought the FA could do about it? BTW, the FA was nice to me and I received good service as far as the Self Loading Cargo section goes.
The hotel turned out to be much farther away than expected and I had to deal with horrible traffic, but I kept smiling at people. The hotel even lost my laundry twice, but they were very good about tracking it down. The manager even came to my room to apologize.
The rental car guy yelled at the lady behind me when she tried to jump in line. He was nice to me.
In the end, the trip was still a dismal experience. My back is still sore from riding in the cattle car. But the nicest people I encountered, and the most competent, were the TSA people.
So if you're finding yourself treated badly by the TSA, consider that perhaps it's because you arrive at the checkpoint with a scowl on your face like someone just shot your best dog.
This isn't to say that a traveller should never complain. Companies can't fix things if they don't know there's something wrong. But it doesn't do any good to complain or be rude to a line worker that can't fix your problem anyway. The FA can't change the pay for meal policy, the TSA screener can't let you keep your shoes on. Write to the hotel or airline executives, call your congressperson, or even better, vote with your feet and don't travel. But taking it out on the line worker is just you venting, and all it does is spread and multiple misery.
Luckily, smiles are contagious too.
Not Yet Another Bluetooth Headset
Yes, sorry, but these Sony DTR-B30Q have some neat new features.
They're behind-the ear style so no dorky headset look.
The microphone isn't some Janet Jackson boom thingie.
Unfortunately not available, but I bet they're in the $125 range, well within most expense guidelines for critical accessories to save your company money with Skype.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
And it only gets worse:
Reminds me of stories from the then-Soviet Union. And it puts the whole waiting-on-the-tarmac thing in perspective.
A jet carrying 180 British tourists was grounded when its pilot announced: "Do not fly with this plane, it is not safe."
The holidaymakers were about to take off back to Bristol Airport from Antalya, Turkey, when a strange sound came from the Airbus A321's engines.
Then the captain announced: "I am resigning from my job. Do not fly with this plane. It is not safe. Do not fly with Onur Air."
The unnamed pilot walked off the aircraft, leaving the passengers in 38C heat without air conditioning.
Final USB Key Form Factor Winner
Yes, we've gotten excited before about this stuff, but this is the winner of the USB key form factor race.
The fold-over design you see on SD (and other) memory storage forms is just too fragile and intimidats the non-techy. Thought it is handy if the memory card you bought for work (ahem) can be used on the family camera.
And the stick-of-gum design we're used to is nicely sturdy, and if you're 15 and carry a backpack to clip it to, is handy. Or if you have a big bunch of keys on a ring attached to your belt by a retractable cord, I guess.
Otherwise you end up with a look that kind of says: Are you glad to see me, or were you just in Wizard of Oz with pointy shoes on? Which is not my corporate look, you know?
Anyway, this is the winning form factor, IMHO. Folds over to be the size of a quarter, protects the connector, is usable by the non-technical, and can clearly be made to hold "modern" size amounts of stuff.
We give it the coveted five boots. Buy two.
Monday, September 25, 2006
Do you need to know anything more than this:
So, poor little Master Of The Universe didn't get suckled up to like He Was The Most Important Man In Coach? Seems so:
Gus Fuentes was in the correct row but wrong seat of a plane that had not yet left London, England, for Toronto on March 15 when he got in an argument with Air Canada staff who had asked him to move.
In an interview last night, Fuentes, a 26-year-old financial services representative in Toronto, said: "I'm not going to pay a cent. I don't care if they take this to a collection agency."
It noted that two other passengers gave Air Canada written statements that Fuentes was verbally abusive and swore at the staff, who responded professionally and calmly.I hate flying with people like that - it's hard enough when we're all calm under adversity.
So I say: Good on 'em. Put an arsehole tax on his next ticket too.
Are Those Movies in Your Pocket
Or are you just glad to catch the flight?
Ok, not funny, but assuming that your company cares about data backup, they'll surely cough up $170 smackers for MaxFile™ Attaché 12GB USB 2.0 12GB (yes, twelve as in one two point zero) flash drive.
Of couse you could also carry three movies on it, but that's beside the point.
Oh, and it's *aluminum* with an LED. Be still my beating heart!
Civil Rights for Americans
Sunday, September 24, 2006
Minneapolis-St. Paul is concerned that its taxi service is deteriorating. Citing their religious beliefs, some Muslim taxi drivers from Somalia are refusing to transport customers carrying or suspected of carrying alcohol. It started with one driver a few years ago, but the average number of fare refusals has grown to about three a day, says airport spokesman Patrick Hogan. "Travelers often feel surprised and insulted," he says. "Sometimes, several drivers in a row refuse carriage."Fire them as cabbies. Deport them if not citizens. Yank the cab owner's hack license on the second violation. Put them in the back of the plane near the toilets on the way back to freaking Somalia.
But the People's Republic Of Minnesota is alive and well:
The airport is expected to propose today that drivers who wish to avoid alcohol-toting passengers change the light on their car roofs, possibly to a different color.Hey, I've got an idea, if they don't want to take a single woman travelling without her chadoor and her husband/brother, they can have one light. Another if they'd rather not have a jew in the car (I suggest a red Star of David with a line through it!). And another if they'd prefer not to have a 'person of color' in the car.
No wait, that last is a bit obviously a civil right violation and might get the ACLU started.
We have *got* to stop giving in to this crazy Muslim intolerance. If they don't like civil American society, they should go home. Or fold into self sufficient and (largely) inconsequential communities like the Amish.
As they say in the Princess Bride: Boo on you. Boo. Boo.
We love the little USB devices, but something like this Delkin Burn Away would be cool.
Basically you stick in your memory card and it burns a DVD for you. Yes, yes, an unscrupulous person could use it for his camera while on vacation, but it's *really* for backing up those important presentation at the conference, right?
You'd have to swallow hard to get past the $370 price, though if you could expense it, well, that seems more reasonable. Just have one fewer lobsters this trip.
But it requires a seperate AC adaptor, which makes it recevie the dreaded: NFW anti-Boot rating. Nothing goes that can't run off USB - that is Newton's (you do know Albert Newton over in Consulting, right?) Fourth Law.
Another Reason to Hate the Brits
Saturday, September 23, 2006
The first really usable looking cell phone watch.
Eighty minutes talk time, tri-band GSM, and has a speaker/microphone (where?) just in case your bluetooth headset goes missing when your watch rings.
When your watch rings - let that one roll around in your head for a while.
The M300 also comes with SMS capability. At first I thought - wow, that would be hard to read. Then I thought - WOW that would be hard to type.
Price is in the $300 range, but if your company pays for cellphones, what the heck?
Safe in the Parking Garage?
It's not that I keep diamonds in the trunk, but I do have a GPS and all that krep so it would be nice to do something better than just putting it in the rear seat well and throwing a blanket over it. Ok, a Taco Bell bag, but same idea.
This $200 gizmo from AutoSafe in the UK (yes, yes, all the good stuff is over there. But they have Prince Charles, Posh, and Madge too, so it's kind of a wash, really.) secures into your car and takes Oceans 11 *and* 12 to open it.
Very neat, and very expensible as "parking" - technically.
Business Travel Avoided, or...
Friday, September 22, 2006
Stupid. Don't even try to expense this ($150) under Video Conferencing.
Bad Luggage - No Donut!
Man, don't even be tempted to get this back from Urban Outfitters.
Hit the road, guns blazing: wheeled suitcase with all-over embroidered
Yep, just what I want to wheel by the TSA in Dulles. Only $99 plus shipping and it comes with a free get-out-of-Mensa card!
What Does This Have to Do With Anything?
Thursday, September 21, 2006
And, since we were huge Star Wars fans in high school, this appeals. Of course then we figured out how to talk to girls - in the backseat - so Lucas movies went by the wayside.
Only problems are it's in the UK so the customs guys will have a laugh at you. And it costs like $2K in real money. And it doesn't come with shoes - where do you buy Storm Trooper trainers?
Anyway, speaking of helicopters, here is one that is even cooler - it has night flying lights! Only $30 bucks from the Radio Shack - I am heading out to the shack in fifteen minutes (when they open) to buy one before my wife finds out.
Ok, so, if it weren't for girls, I'd probably live in an apartment that looks like that. But I'd look like Jabba instead of a D&D master.
Neither expensible unless you sign your reports "Yoda."
Having just been subjected to the tender mercies of the TSA at a couple of airports, allow me to make a modest suggestion.
If we catch a terrorist before he manages to board a plane, his punishment should be to be strapped upright to an X-shaped frame which forces his legs apart. Then, every time an airline passenger is subjected to a “close” search (ie. near-strip search), an electronic pulse is sent from the airport to the prison, and thence to a machine which delivers a precise blow to the terrorist’s genitals.
Unusual?—I prefer to call it “inventive”.
We could test the system on would-be Shoe Bomber Richard Reid, triggered each time somone has to take off his shoes at an airport checkpoint.
He wouldn't mind if you laughed. Wistfully.
More Flipping Batteries?
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Yes, well, as a lover of all things USB, how could we not curse our cousins across the pond for their ability to buy these beauties!
But where are the C and D cells so we can recharge our kids toys and stuff?
And at only 12.99 quiderooties (around $20 in real money) per pair, they're a steal. At least compared to your Prius, mate.
Ok, Sell Me This NOW
How about a 32G solid state (uses memory instead of a revolving platter) drive that is plug compatible with your current laptop's drive?
Lower power consumption, smaller than the current hard drive (can you put TWO in?), and blazing fast (of course).
Don't care what it costs, sell me on from my Toshiba! I will expense that baby before you can say "Hey, where did the giant hand come from?"
More Laptops on Fire: IBM
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
So we're waiting for a flight in the United lounge at LAX, the flight next to ours was heading to London and in the middle of final boarding, when suddenly this guy comes running the wrong way up the jetway, pushing other boarding passengers out of the way, he quickly drops his laptop on the floor and the thing immediately flares up like a giant firework for about 15 seconds, then catches fire. About a hundred other people in the lounge jumped up and began a mix of gawking and general panic, I clearly heard a few fleeing individuals saying something about terrorists. The fire burned for a minute while everybody just stared at it, then another flare up, this one much larger than the first, drove a larger group of gawkers away. Eventually, the high intensity flaring calmed down and a larger fire kicked in, all the while letting off a thick cloud of white smoke that was slowly filling the terminal. Finally, an employee came over with a fire extinguisher and put it out of its misery.
I spoke to the laptop owner (while getting close for some pictures!) and he said he his laptop was an IBM, that he had checked the battery against the recalls on the net and his battery wasn't a recall. I don't remember seeing any IBM laptops nuke themselves yet on Gizmodo, just MacBooks and Dells with Sony batteries, but it was a close call nonetheless. If that thing had fired off while that plane was in the air, who knows what would have happened.
Also, we got to overhear some of the not-so-computer-literate people on our flight talking about how laptop batteries can explode if you "get too many viruses on your computer.
The money quote is undoubtedly the part about viruses, but still, much as we all hate the IT guys, perhaps if you're an IBM/LENOVO owner you might call and see if there is a stealth recall?
Do Not Bring This On The Plane, Please
Because if you're foolish enough to try *and* you manage to get through security, then certainly you're silly enough to show your seatmate that it is also -
Which means that the other passengers will have to beat you. That is all.
Oh, and it's $10 bucks if you happen to be in Korea. South that is. And it is so not expensible.
VideoCon on the Road
Monday, September 18, 2006
We don't use this as it's mostly amazing when Skype works properly on the hotel sort-of-high-speed internet that they clip you $19 bucks for, but we see a lot of people using videocameras to talk to the wife and kids.
This one looks pretty cool - Microsoft so it'll work with windows (as well as anything does), high resolution at up to 1600x1200 image stream (you can see little Johnny's boo boo!), and even takes 2MP pix.
Plus it looks very James Bond, which is cool. The butch lipstick look is very La Femme Nikita, but being able to close it up and drop it into the computer bag will be handy.
Hunnert bucks. Plus a $30 one with much lower resolution. November. Totally expensible as a way to save the company money on flights. Yeah, sure.
Bluetooth Headphones V10
Or whatever number of times we've looked at this particular subject. What I really want is Bose Quiet Comfort IV that support bluetooth.
But these Motoroloa S805 headphones have a few advantages: expensible as heck at only $130, stereo and sounding good, and, most importantly, lay-flat design so you can pack them easily.
And at 17 hours it's cool for a day or two trip - especially if we can't yet tell if Moto was smart enough to make them USB chargable. Because who needs another charger on a trip? Not me!
Bump and update. We talked earlier about the HT820 and someone asked why these look better. Several things: the design is stodgier. Let's face it, I ain's spinning house music, you know?
Also, the battery life on the HT820 is only a few hours. Pfft.
Sweet $200 GPS....
Sunday, September 17, 2006
See, the cool thing here is that it hooks up to your phone and gives you maps on your Windows Mobile phone - as noted in our earlier GPS Maps posting. It clips on your visor (next to your Blue Ant Supertooth, natch.
Wow, our most self-referntial post yet.
Anyway, 20 hours of operation, included car charger, can swap batteries with some Nokia phones (so your phone is dead but you have theoretical GPS? WTF!).
And a very expensible $200.
Good Lord, More Phones....
A reader sent us this link to a brand new Sprint GSM (yes, Sprint & GSM in the same phrase!) phone. The IP-830w is EVDO (high speed data access), GPRS, dual-band GSM, and Sprint now has interoperations agreements world wide. Plus it is as cute as a button. Rumors on the web are <$200 with a 2 year contract so pretty standard.
I'm waiting for all these cool HTC developed GSM phones we keep reading about to hit Cingular. Yes, they are terrible, but they're the terrible phone company I'm used to.
Saturday, September 16, 2006
The background is that a bunch of whinging frequent flyers think it's a violation of their civil liberties to take off their shoes and not carry a gallon jug of water on an airplane. And therefore they delight in taking it out (verbally since they're probably chickens anyway) on the TSA minions. Here is the response from a TSA person, AngryDan, lurking on the board:
Uhm...I know that this may come as a surprise to you but making an ass of yourself and delaying your fellow passengers does not make you a freedom fighter.
There are effective protest methods out there. For one you can write your congressman or the airlines. This method has changed TSA policy in the past. The pat down procedure was modified because of public pressure primarily from female passengers. Despite recent changes, the TSA as an organization has responded to the shoe screening concerns.
Believe it or not we do have an established practice for addressing government policies you disagree with. It's called an election. If this matters enough to you, find a candidate who opposes TSA policies and support him. If you truly believe in your ideas, you should let them stand the test of an election.
You could refuse to fly. And you could send a letter to the airlines telling them that you won't fly.
Or better yet, you could buy a ticket and refuse to cooperate with TSA at the checkpoint. Make a statement saying that you won't comply and attempt to
bypass the screening process. When you are arrested, challenge the constitutionality of the law in court. You may not win. But you have a moral obligation to fight unjust laws. Think of it. You would be like Ghandi or Martin Luther King spending time in jail opposing an unjust law. Please do this!
I believe in the TSA. I don't believe in everything the TSA has done.
But I believe in the TSA enough to make a career out of it. If you oppose the TSA's policies you should stand behind your beliefs enough to do something besides make an ass of yourself. Truly stand up for your beliefs.
The other day, someone compared me to a NAZI stormtrooper for not allowing him to carry his Old Spice through the checkpoint. I had so many thoughts. First of all, if I was really comparable to a NAZI guard then I don't think he would be able to insult me with impunity. I smiled and offered him a complaint form. I don't think the NAZIs had a complaint forms.
Secondly, don't you think that if you really believe that the TSA was comparable to an organization that committed genocide that you have some obligation to do something besides delaying flights. I am forced to conclude that you don't really believe what you say, or that you aren't really willing to stand up for your beliefs. Either way we end with the way this post started.
You are just making an ass of yourself.
You tell 'em!
Non-Crappy MP3 Watch
Sorry, can't read the kanji, but this MP3/Bluetooth watch is pretty cool.
In fact, it would be a great way to transfer files (like James Bond!) between computers.
But unlike the other techie watches (remember the Timex one that would sync with Outlook?) it doesn't look like something that Bill Gates would wear.
IVR Auto Navigate
Friday, September 15, 2006
Hurrry, hurry, it's free so it won't last long!
Oh, yeah, it's a service where you can train it to naviage those stupid long Interactive Voice Response (IVR) phone menus. Sorry, it can't do "Listen carefully as our menus have changed."
Ohhh, very cool, very retro, and you might even be able to get on a plane at Heathrow with it tucked into your cargo pants!
Three inch touch screen, scrollie wheels, wifi (hmmm, what kind of downloads?), and bluetooth for your cool new headphones.
No price, but who cares. I figure you can watch training videos on it - so it's really "Offsite Training" on the expense report.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Free Virtual Earth for your Pocket PC. Free - a nice price.
You can get it here.
What I like about this is that it looks right for your windows mobile PDA.
We give it three boots!
The Flu Travels On Airplanes
It's not that a lot of people catch the flu from sneezy fellow passengers, although that's possible. Instead, Mr. Brownstein says, travelers who may start a trip before flu's symptoms kick in infect the people they're visiting -- or they catch the virus in one city and carry it back home.I don't know about the flu because I always get a shot as early as possible each year, but I certainly have brought sinus infections from all over the world to my home.
Phone Update - Ugly I-Mate
Reader TJ emails us:
Since you were interested in that other i-Mate, I thought you would like to see the i-Mate JAG phone I bought in Hong Kong this week. Dropped my Nokia into the loo after one too many lagers with Black chasers. Apparently I picked it out, put it in my pocket, and took it back to the hotel. It took me a whiale to figure out why the closet at the Hilton smelled like behind the fence at the local. The staff assures me that the cleaner can get my suit clean. Anyway, this was around 250 quid.
Yikes, dude, that is one seriously buggly phone. But it has a great feature set. Hmmm, receipt in Kanji, hmmmm.
More Phone Coolness
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
The much beloved phone is showing its age - thus all the posts on phones lately. But nothing is lovely enough to require a one or two year contract for a fleeing love, or affair. (Phones, I said, phones!)
The Nokia E62 will be available on Cingular. Probably positioned as a Q Killer. The problem is that it's neither Palm nor Windows, so nothing will work on it. But other than that....
Don't get me wrong, tri-band GSM, etc, etc is all very nice, but I'm not willing to fight the IT guys to get my darn mail to work.
There is also the T-Mobile MDA for, well, minus $20 after rebates at Amazon. This is more like it - WiFi, EDGE plus the normal tri-band stuff. I like the idea of Skyping on this in my hotel room using the hotel wifi connection. I understand this phone has the normal probems around QWERTY keyboards and dialing. But frankly I call the same 10 people all the time and everyone else is in my 1,400+ phone entries.
I am sorely tempted.
Finally, there is the dark horse, I-Mate SPL. It's a simpler phone, which has the advantage of breaking fewer things, and it's a wonderful ripoff of Moto, which is always fun to see. But the real problem is that it'll be on Cingular "some day" and the other two are available now.
Reduce Our Dependence on Foreign Oil
But I am a chicken and will wait for Consumer Reports to review them. Also, I demand a mini-USB charger!
More DRM Goodness
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Apparently myFairTunes is the new trick stuff. iPod compatible, etc, etc.
We report, you decide. Oh, yeah, free. Which is hard to expense. :-) But as least since it's open source you're not installing some executable from Waziristan or something.
Travelling For Newbies
We just got a new guy in our group and, after giving him his Amex/Green, his computer, his official Giant Co computer bag, we are wondering what else he needs.
I was poking around and realized this bag-o-cables would be a good place to start - and only $10 after rebates and such.
We've already told him to but a 20" Tumi and a good cheap MP3 player. And comfy shoes that are easy to on/off at security.
I'd get him to start using FlyerTalk - but warn him that if he tried a mileage run on me I'd make him ride in coach for a quarter.
Anyone thing of anything else critical?
Monday, September 11, 2006
Perhaps that is a good thing.
I keep remembering that five years after the last time we were attacked the US military had killed over 4M enemy combatants, 5M+ civilians, and dropped two atomic bombs. That, of course, does not include the several dozen million more killed by our allies using US munitions.
All I can say is that the Muslim world is damn lucky that this wartime president (Bush) is more patient than the last (Roosevelt).
Yes, I am still very very mad.
Michelle Malkin has a lot of good posts up today if you need some visual reminders.
And let's remember all our travelling co-workers, fellow citizens, and visitors who perished today in an act of war.
Here's a few items for them to consider:
1) You knew before you left for the airport what the rules were. If you don't like the rules, then vote with your feet and don't fly. That's the only thing that's going to get anyone's attention. You'll still be wrong, but at least you won't be bothering the rest of us that can read signs.
2) Don't take it out on the flight attendants. They don't make the rules, and they could lose their job if they don't enforce them. They want to take away your water less than you want to give it to them. You're not making a point to them, you're just being a PITA.
3) The others of us on the airplane aren't impressed with your ability to smuggle. We especially don't appreciate missing our connections because our flight was diverted or we had to go through reverse screening on the other end because of your childish rebellion.
It really is possible to survive an entire hour without water. If you've got a medical condition that prevents that, then just get a prescription for water.
World's Greatest Carryon Bag
Ok, its for snowboarding slackers, but how great for travelling - holds the booze, has a built in seat, a laptop compatment. You can probably put a snowboard in there somewhere too. $129.
Bump and update: as some readers pointed out - it would be great for your kids soccer games and those long pointless meetings.....
Sunday, September 10, 2006
Ok, I have about had it with this whole water thing.
Reader AW sent me this link for "Hydra Coach" which gives you a digital readout on how much you should drink from your wittle water bottle.
Sweet mother of pearl, will the madness never end.
I have to warn you, if you pull one of these out while you're sitting next to me on the plane I will do something obscene to your seat belt buckle while you're up at the lav.
Strange Google Search of the Day
The latest good one is: audio clips did you expense the lap dances.
We're not gonna say we did, but as my son once said: don't make me lie to you.
Mileage Runs (MR)
Saturday, September 09, 2006
I've made one mileage run in my life. Back in 1998 I was 2,500 miles away from whatever Delta's highest level was back then, so I took a trip to the west coast that I could have done by phone to put myself over the top. The company was paying for it, so I was really just out the time and hassle, which back then wasn't so much as it is today. It was worth a day of my time to get the extra special treatment of the highest level in the program.
But there are people out there doing wacky mileage runs, paying for cheap coach tickets and burning upgrades to business class just to be in the top tier of their frequent flyer program. I'm not talking just being a few thousand miles short, but racking up 30K miles on 10+ segments using $1600 of their own money over a 5 day period just to be at the highest elite level.
Why earn the upgrades if you're going to burn them to earn more upgrades?
Do you really like airline and airport food so much that you want to live on it for a week?
Is it possible to spend 5 days in the air without catching a sinus infection?
As I've revealed before, I made Executive Platinum on American Airlines in July with plenty of miles to spare for the last two years. My company paid for all of it. Frankly, if I could miss EXP by 30K miles, I'd consider that an accomplishment!
Q Killer from Samsung
Or, not. Doesn't anyone have large hands in the cell phone world?
I have loved my Samsung phones - sturdy, good signal, etc, etc. The Samsung SGH-i600 has all the EDGE goodies that we GSM people want.
FCC approved as of now, Cingular to sell it soon, betcha it's $299 with a 2-year contract.
Maybe They Know Something We Don't Know
Friday, September 08, 2006
I have no idea whether or not the ban on liquids for travel in the USA and UK is appropriate. From where I sit, it looks like the level above is just being foolish. But I suspect that the TSA and MI-5 have more knowledge about what was going on with the London plot than I do. Something really scared them, because they took drastic measures -- measures which are costing the airlines a lot of cash.
And the airlines are going along with it. I heard a rumor that a flight attendant told a passenger that made a comment about the "stupid water ban" that if he had seen the information that they've seen, he wouldn't think it was stupid.
I'm not an expert on liquid explosives. I don't even play one on TV. There was an article in the UK Register that claims that the plot wasn't feasible. This seems to be completely based upon a leak to the press (from unnamed sources) that the explosive the terrorists planned to use was TATP (triacetone triperoxide), a very difficult solution to create without burning yourself up.
Keep in mind this has as much credibility as the rumor about the flight attendant I reported above. The article claims that the bomb plot would not have worked, and many frequent flyers (especially over on FlyerTalk) have now become experts in liquid exposives and have declared the ban on liquids/gels as silly, totalitarian, and foolish. They refer to "Comrade Chertoff" and declare Bush to be an idiot for putting the ban in place. Many even claim that it was done for the elections in the fall for the US to whip up fear of terrorists. And that we should be willing to accept the risks when we fly.
Aside from the obvious that the Brits have banned liquids in carry-on and they don't have elections coming up, this all sounds like perhaps we don't have all the information. If you've ever been involved in a situation where the press is reporting a story about something you know the truth on, you'll agree that the only thing you can be sure of is that the press got something major wrong.
So I started doing some research on liquid explosives. And now I agree that mixing up a batch of TATP on an airplane would be pretty tough to do. Not that I'd want to be on the flight where some jihadist was trying to do it because the resulting fire in the lav would be a real inconvenience, especially about 3 hours out over the Atlantic.
But there are plenty of other substances which could be smuggled aboard in liquids or gels. I seem to recall reading that the current swab tests check for nitrite explosives, but very few bags get swabbed these days. A shampoo bottle full of Nitroglycerin would be dangerous to carry around, but I don't think the jihadists are that concerned about their personal safety. What if they managed to get something in the Astrolite family? There are commercial binary liquid explosives that would easily create a large enough explosion to cause a problem. That fact is that unless they can verify every liquid and gel coming onto an airplane, there's an hole in the security process that allows the bad guys to blow up planes. As Jayne said in Serenity, "I don't wanna explode!"
So here's what I think has happened. Perhaps the press got it wrong and it wasn't TATP the London bombers were planning on using. There's plenty of security reasons for the government not to broadcast what combination they might have used. Or maybe that group of jihadists were idiots, and their actions only illustrated a huge security hole. Bush and Blair probably asked the question of whether there are any other liquid explosives that could make it through the security screening process and the answer was yes. Since they can't screen for it, and they can't swab everything, the only prudent course was to ban all liquids and gels. I don't know, I don't have the information.
I agree that this was done for the fall elections, but not for the reasons the people opposed to the ban are convinced has happened. It's not that the government is just making a show to stir people up about terror. Face it, the flying public isn't that much of a voting block. There are plenty of ways the government could make a show to scare people about terrorism.
The reason is quite the opposite -- as Bush well knows, if there is a sucessful terrorist attack between now and November the Republicans are sunk. Whether or not the government is overreacting, the simple political reality is that if a bunch of airplanes blow up it will have an effect on the elections. I can guarantee that in that event the left winger complaining about the liquids ban wouldn't be telling us how we should be willing to accept a little risk. It would be "Bush knew about the threat and did nothing!"
I'm not someone that thinks flying should be risk free. Walking has risks, driving has risks, even staying on the couch has risks. But unless you think the entire terrorist threat has been made up, you've got to agree that leaving a giant security hole for the bad guys to use is just plain foolish. Why not just get rid of the security checkpoints entirely? Luckily, the adults are in charge and they're taking the only prudent course given what they've got to work with.
Which is why I suspect that the people so loudly calling the goverment idiots for the water ban are just like employees that think their bosses are idiots until they get promoted and find out things they didn't know.
Cool But Useless Travel Gear
Reader LAX writes in:
My wallet of several years fell to pieces in my hand on a trip to Manhattan this week. I was paying the new higher entrance fee to Moma. I loved it as usual, and found this very cool METAL wallet in the store, and only $95, which is not bad for NYC.
Think this will drive the TSA screeners nuts?
Well, dude, you live in LaLa land, you can probably carry it off. Did you expense it though? And do you really want to tease Teresa Thumbalina at the TSA?
Phones for Home Office
Thursday, September 07, 2006
I've had the Uniden Tru series for a few years now - early adopter for the 5.8G phones.
Recently my wife and children started actually using the phone (help!) so I had to go out and expense, er, buy a bunch of new handsets.
They have extensively upgraded their offerings and it's all backward compatible. We got a pile of these TCX905 items.
The sound is dramatically improved, setup is more straightforward. The only downside is that the new phones are not charger backward compatible with the older TRU phones. Which seems strange to me, but not everyone is as smart as Toshiba (10+ years with the same charger form factor!) or Nokia.
Think About Why You Need to Hydrate
I used to spend a lot of time in the church of holy hydration as you called it. I found myself bringing a few litres of water on cross country flights, and then drinking more at the hotel -- all the time thinking I was being healthy. Then I had a yearly checkup that I hadn't had in a few years and found out that I was a diabetic.Wow, kinda scary. Those travellers claiming they can't go 45 minutes without hydration might want to have their sugar checked...
In retrospect, I'm glad my grandfather didn't live to see me pay $2.50 for a bottle of water. He'd have just shook his head.
I love my sub-micro laptop, but the whole docking station thing is a PITA. The USB ports hang off the side, etc, etc, etc.
Now Belkin has announced a wireless USB solution. Yes, the dongle sticks out the side, but now I can locate the hub way off out of sight.
No price yet. Don't care, must have it!
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
No, not playing golf near the end of the runway, but playing golf with this distance finder.
Your balls (shut up) have a microchip and transmitter in them and you can use this to find them in the tall tall woods.
Looks like you get a dozen balls, the finder, *and* an anti-kryptonite bag to keep your spare balls in so the finder works worth a darn.
Only $250. I think one could expense this as a legitimate client relations expense, don't you?
Passengers on a flight from France to Mauritius have filed suit against AirAt first I thought it was that funny looking guy from Aerosmith, but no.
France after musician Bonnie Tyler performed a song at the request of the
- Southwest will never fly in Belgium.
- If you order a waffle in Brussles do you get a Belgian Waffle?
But the tragedy is:
"I was asleep in First Class. The stewardess came and said the co-pilot was
retiring. And they asked me would I sing to him."
Plus, I remember her as a total hottie. In that 80's kind of way. Shut up, that was the style back then.
But now she's someone's grandmother holding in her stomach in a leather pantsuit. Kinda a bummer.
Your Phone is an iPod?
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Well, without the annoying menu scheme and the cult thing. Other than that.
Pretech have released an 8G SD card. Got a Treo? Now you got a reason to rock on.
Actually, I mostly listen to books-on-tape since that sounds fine on one ear via my bluetooth headset.
No price yet, but this is one of the most expensible things I've ever seen. "Small Computer Equipment" indeed.
Post Landing Woes
When I get off a flight longer than a few hours I have horrible gas. Is it just me? It drives my wife crazy.
Uh, dude, way too much information. But it would certainly explain why everyone is so greasy and stinky after the Delhi<->Chicago flight.
My big thing is that my sinuses get both dry and drainy (don't know how that it possible, but it is) plus I'm off-time zone *and* I've usually had a few drinks. So I don't sleep well the first few nights I'm home. And apparently I *really* snore because of it.
My wife is threatening to buy me this "anti-snoring" watch ($50) so that I'll bother myself more than I bother her. I don't see the value in this, but she assures me I'll live longer.
It doesn't feel like something I could expense tho.
Pounds for Dollars
Monday, September 04, 2006
Fast forward a month. I've gained a few pounds due to bad Uno's pizzas on AA and a friend sends me a like to Amazon where the headset is available for $99. I checked Car Phone Warehouse (great store) and it's still 99 quid in the UK.
What. The. Heck.
I've noticed this before, I guess, but it really just hit me. Pounds for dollars. Wow. Amazing that anyone in the UK can afford a TV, really.
Oh, side note, this thing weighs 9 grams, which if it were a controlled substance would get you into a nice prison, but for a headset it just sits in your ear without effort. I got the black version, took off the Star Trek clip, and it is really discreet.
Great and Potentially Bad Practical Joke
Shakes on a Plane is the title of the web page. And it's the unfunniest thing about the joke, which is very funny.
Basicall this guy took a, er, well, uh, a, "personal massage unit" through security. In his pants.
I won't ruin the punchline for you or anything, but it's certainly worth a read, and, except for one picture of the PMU, it is safe for work.
This joke rates an 11.
Water On The Plane
Sunday, September 03, 2006
See, part of the problem is this new church so many worship at: The Church of Holy Hydration. Honsest to goodness, you can really go for *hours* without water. Even if you're hot. Even if you're uncomfortable. It's not like you're doing hard physical labor - the seats are just uncomfortable.
Amazingly enough, this includes children, pregnant women, old people, and the hung over.
If you look at pictures of people in a crowd 20 years ago you'll notice something (they're very likely dirty commie hippies who grew up into journos, but beyond that) - there are no water bottles clutched in their hands!
If you look at pictures of people 40 years ago you'll notice something: they're wearing suits and hats and there are no water bottles in sight either.
Amen, brother. People like to *talk* about saving the environment - how about drinking from the flipping water fountain? Can you imagine the economic cost of transporting a bottle of "pure" water from France to Indy? And the trash it produces?
On a side note, my grandfather grew up on a farm, and I remember him telling me how good the well water would taste at lunch because he'd been dreaming of it since breakfast. If a farmer in LA could work all summer morning without a drink, we can all make it through takeoff, dontcha think?
I Want One - For No Good Reason
It's only $80 but my spouse and I have a $50 rule, and I can't possibly ask for this else we'll have a new set of darn silicone oven mitts in the house.
Anything even vaguely work related on this?
Cruising Through The Elite Line
Saturday, September 02, 2006
"It's ludicrous," a visibly irritated Charles Gresham said as he and his family prepared to enter the regular security line at Dallas/Fort Worth airport's new international terminal.Proving once again how clueless some people can be but aren't afraid to tell the world. Perhaps the guy going through the regular security line with his brood of kids should notice how fast the elite line moves. That's because they're not trying to bring a tuba as carry on. They know to remove their laptops and take off their shoes. They aren't sending bags with play-dough through the x-ray machine, and they're not placing a sippy-cup of soda on the x-ray machine belt (yep, saw that in person). Putting the frequent travelers in a separate line is just common sense optimization.
The Greshams' line wasn't particularly long. But watching elite members of American Airlines' AAdvantage program move briskly through their own line to effectively jump ahead was a bitter pill to swallow.
"I can see the people who pay for first-class tickets getting better seats," said Gresham, who was headed to Germany on an unexpected and temporary military deployment. "But this is security. We should all be even here."
And by the way, it's the airlnes that pay the fee for those elite lines. You get to use those lines when you do a huge amount of business with the airlines. And if you've qualified for Executive Platinum in mid-July like I have the last two years, you realize that it's not all that fun to rack up a few hundred thousand miles a year. Frankly, the airlines aren't doing nearly enough for their best customers.
Is Everyone On This Flight Platinum?
It's fairly rare that you see them deny someone in coach boarding at that time, even though they're clearly not elite or riding up front.
So what's the point of having separate boarding?
Frankly, I'd rather the airlines boarded First Clast last. Have the flight attendants fiercely guard the overhead bins in the first cabin, and give the people in front the luxury of spending a little more time in the terminal rather than getting hit in the head by the tuba of a passing coach passenger. Then we wouldn't have to be put out that they don't offer us a pre-flight drink any more.
Friday, September 01, 2006
I saw an ad for this on a website somewhere and have been trying to think of a use for it ever since. Basically it melts instantly in any liquid and gets pretty mushy at high humidity.
Print a hated co-workers boarding pass on it? Print your presentation on it and wait for the fun when someone puts their coke can on it in a meeting?
Print your expense report on it and wait for the monsoon season humidity to make it into disappearing boots!