I’m delighted that the FAA is changing the rules on in-flight electronics so that I’ll be allowed to read my Kindle during takeoff and landing. I’m equally delighted that the change doesn’t extend to cellphones.
You see, I hate my cellphone. And I hate yours even more.
My husband and I ate breakfast in a Tampa hotel restaurant recently surrounded by six big-screen TVs.
They were affixed high on the walls, tuned to various stations, the sound turned off, some with captions, some without. And while the sheer number of screens was unusual, the experience of visual cacophony was not. It seems that everywhere we go these days there is at least one big-screen TV, usually more, flickering and dancing away.
This is especially true when we travel out of state. At home we can find places where there are no TVs – our favorite restaurant has none – or where they are at least confined to the bar.
But the invasion of big screens in airports, casual restaurants, hotel lobbies and even cruise ships has made it difficult to get away from them when traveling. And getting away from them has become increasingly important to both of us even as it has become more challenging.
I’m counting down a list of the five most useful things I packed for a recent 16-day cruise, and here is number 4: an outlet tap.
My outlet tap, doing double duty.
Truth to tell, I didn’t know what the thing was called when I packed it, even though I’d had it for years. I Googled it post-cruise. (Google knows all.) An outlet tap is essentially an outlet multiplier — plug it in and turn one outlet into several. And on many cruise ships (including the Carnival Legend, which carried us from Tampa to Barcelona) that can turn out to be quite handy.
Before we left, my husband warned me that he’d read on Cruise Critic that even the suites on the Legend offer only one 11o-volt outlet, and that we should pack a power strip. I scoffed. How could this be? A modern cruise ship would have multiple outlets in each cabin. And a power strip would be far too bulky. But I packed the outlet tap just in case, expecting not to need it.
But he was right. There was one lonely 110-volt plug in our suite. (There was also a 220-volt European-style outlet. More on that below.)
I was looking for a better seat on my next Delta flight (no luck there) when I happened on a smart new feature on the airline’s Web site — a link to add flight details to my electronic calendar with one click.
The feature works for Outlook, the Mac’s iCal and the Yahoo! and Gmail calendars.
I have to hand it to Delta, which has always been a leader in integrating its reservations system and its Web site. A sweet little feature like that may not be enough to win my business on its own, but every little bit helps.
Starbucks made wireless Internet access free at 6,700 company-owned stores as of yesterday.