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 · · Travel

Bags · The com­bo rol­lie/back­pack lap­top case I bought two years back is start­ing to wear out, and I’ve de­cid­ed that the rol­lie fea­ture is not cost-effective; there are lots of times I can’t use it, and the mech­a­nism adds weight and bulk while rob­bing me of space. So I’ve been pok­ing around look­ing for good lap­top packs (has to be a pack so I can put a change of clothes in for my fre­quent overnighter­s). David Wein­berg­er told me that Crum­pler was a hot name, and in look­ing at them I ran across some oth­er in­ter­est­ing can­di­dates via re­views that said “and the com­pe­ti­tion is...” The can­di­dates are the Crum­pler King Sin­gle (that web­site is to­tal­ly try­ing too hard), the Tom Bi­hn Brain Bag, and the Road­Wired Dig­i­tal Day­pack. Any­one out there got one of the­se, or want to weigh on on the sub­ject of the ide­al lap­top pack? [Up­date: GAAAAAAAAAAAAH! I’m buried, even more peo­ple care about lap­top bags than about car­bonara sauce, even. I must must MUST do that com­ments sys­tem.] [Dear Tom Bi­hn: you owe the LazyWeb a cou­ple hun­dred bucks worth of thanks. I just or­dered a Brain Bag with all the fix­ings. Dear Crum­pler: please fix that egre­gious web­site. What part of “don’t of­fend ev­ery com­put­er pro­fes­sion­al on the planet” don’t you un­der­stand? Dear world: please stop send­ing me laptop-bag email.] ...
Enplaned · That’s the name of a blog sub­ti­tled “Airlines and com­mer­cial aerospace”, an insider’s take on the air­line busi­ness. They re­cent­ly had a piece in which they were kind of com­plain­ing about how few com­ments they got; my sus­pi­cion is that these guys know their stuff so well that there’s lit­tle left to add to their pieces. I’m not in the busi­ness at al­l, but as a heavy cus­tomer, I find an al­most sick fas­ci­na­tion in their pieces about Boe­ing/Air­bus com­pe­ti­tion (sum­ma­ry: Boe­ing is win­ning just now), old vs. new air­line mod­els (sum­ma­ry: new is win­ning), and air­lines vs. the “GDS” ticket-selling sys­tems (sum­ma­ry: too close to cal­l). Here’s today’s ex­am­ple, Delta’s Unse­cured Cred­i­tors, which dives deep on the ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween bankrupt air­lines (quite a few of those these days) and the peo­ple who fi­nance the planes they fly; this is a big-bucks high-stakes game and one that you’d nev­er hear about, nor­mal­ly. Great stuff.
A380 Fear and Loathing · To­day, the Air­bus A380 flew. Oddly, this seems to be treat­ed as a good thing. On this page there is a fright­ful lie, name­ly that the plane will seat 555 pas­sen­gers with lots of room for lounges and shop­ping and so on. This claim is obliv­i­ous to the facts that most air­lines are los­ing mon­ey and most trav­el­ers are high­ly price-sensitive; er­go, this turkey will car­ry 800-plus suf­fer­ing souls packed in like sar­di­nes, which means that af­ter you roll up to the gate, you can count on the best part of an hour fil­ing off the plane so you can make the tran­si­tion from un­pleas­ant air­plane to un­pleas­ant air­port.
PT Oozer · On last week’s trip to the Colorado Soft­ware Sum­mit I had the mis­for­tune, for the sec­ond time in the last year, to re­ceive a PT Cruis­er from Avis. This au­to­mo­bile is a mis­be­got­ten fail­ure, de­spite its ad­mirably id­iosyn­crat­ic shape and am­ple head­room. Its ride is un­sta­ble and jit­tery on high-speed turn­s, its car­go space ab­surd­ly lim­it­ed. Worst of al­l, it is the sin­gle most un­der­pow­ered car I’ve driv­en in many years; tak­ing it from five to nine thou­sand feet of al­ti­tude up US In­ter­state 70 was al­ter­nate­ly mad­den­ing and ter­ri­fy­ing. Clear­ly they re­pur­posed a sewing-machine fac­to­ry some­where to build the en­gi­nes. Steer clear, I’d say.
Luggage Tech · Com­ing home from the Val­ley last week, I ex­pe­ri­enced a wardrobe mal­func­tion; my knap­sack (a tech-conference free­bie) fell apart in the air­port. So I hit the Wil­sons Leather store in SFO, and dis­cov­ered that busi­ness trav­el gear has re­al­ly been get­ting bet­ter. I can’t find the prod­uct I bought on their web­site, but it’s a nice-looking black leather knap­sack that dou­bles as a rol­lie, and is just way slick. It’s got a lap­top sleeve that fits my 15-inch Pow­erBook, plus two more com­part­ments; one for pa­per­s, one for elec­tron­ic­s, lots of lit­tle pouch­es and pock­ets and sleeves, and an accessible-yet-secure place for the trav­el doc­u­ments. Hm­m, look­ing at Wilsons’ fi­nan­cial­s, they’re not do­ing that great, it might be a good time to snap some­thing up now while they’ve got a clear­ance on. But I imag­ine that if they’ve got good stuff, so does the com­pe­ti­tion. Bottom-line, if you’re get­ting tired of what­ev­er beat-up old thing you’re haul­ing around on road trip­s, it’s an at­trac­tive time to up­grade.
Aussie Cluefulness · We’re tak­ing a va­ca­tion to Aus­tralia in Fe­bru­ary. You can’t just hop on a plane, you have to get a visa. This used to mean, if you were in a big city with a con­sulate, go­ing down there with a pic­ture and spend­ing time wait­ing, or if you were away from such a city, mail­ing them your pass­port. So last night, Lau­ren sug­gest­ed check­ing their on­line pres­ence, and what do you know, it’s ex­cel­len­t. You can get a year’s visa for A$20 by giv­ing them your pass­port num­ber and a few ba­sic vi­tal statis­tic­s, and the whole thing takes maybe five min­utes. Good on ya, Aussies!
Winning Business With a Good Web Site · I just now this morn­ing had to book a short lit­tle trip with­in the Pa­cif­ic North­west. There's this re­gion­al car­ri­er called WestJet, and they got my busi­ness, among oth­er rea­sons be­cause their web­site is done right while the competition's are lame and ir­ri­tat­ing ...
DFW WiFi · Sit­ting in DFW wait­ing for the plan, pull up the AirPort and it turns out there are two dif­fer­ent WiFi net­works up, Way­port and T-online, I point the lap­top at Way­port and it con­ve­nient­ly lets me buy a day's ac­cess for US$6.95, I on­ly use a cou­ple hours but think I got my money's worth ...
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