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Traveling with Technology, and Its Glitches

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SAVVY COMPUTING

 

Traveling with Technology, and
Its Glitches

 

by Reid Goldsborough

 

Airline rules continue to
change, regarding carry-on laptop computers as well as carry-on toiletries.
Some airlines banned the batteries of some laptops because of the risk they
might explode in midair. As of this writing, rules were easing, but other
perils threaten those who travel with electronics.

 

One company that offers rescue
services to travelers whose laptops or PDAs conk out is Rescuecom, at <span
class=95StoneSerifIt>www.rescuecom.com
.
“Traveling can be stressful, and technology should make your trips easier, not
add to that stress,’’ said David A. Milman, founder and CEO of Rescuecom.

 

The company suggests the
following:

 

Check
your airline’s rules.
Airlines
such as Virgin Atlantic, Qantas, and Korean Air banned certain Dell and Apple
laptop batteries on their flights because of concerns about overheating and
potential explosions.

 

Load
up.
Don’t get caught without a
needed program. Particularly if yours is a company computer, make sure all the
programs you’ll need are installed and working properly.

 

Power
up.
Fully charge your laptop
before traveling. Bring all your chargers and adapters, not only for your
laptop but also for your handheld, cell phone, and other electronics you may be
packing. It’s smart to have spare batteries, and to charge them as well.

 

Look
for outlets.
Save your battery
power for when you need it. Some airplanes provide electrical outlets,
accessible with an adapter. The same applies for some hotel lounges and coffee
shops.

 

Check
with your hotel.
More and more
hotels provide high-speed or wi-fi Internet access, but not all do. Visit your
hotel’s Web site or phone to confirm.

 

Check
with your wireless phone/PDA provider.
You want to make sure you’ll have voice and data access along your
route. Several cellular phone providers have come out with internationally
compatible cell phones in recent years (most using the GSM standard), but many
phones work only in the United States, so you may have to rent a phone if
you’re traveling abroad.

 

Protect
your data.
Encrypting and
password-protecting your sensitive files ensures that your data are safe in
case of theft. Don’t conduct confidential business over a wi-fi connection in
the airport or at your hotel; it may not be secure. One option for conducting
important business through email while on the road is to have your IT
department or computer support consultant set up a virtual private network.

 

Consider
a USB thumb drive.
These handy
little drives, about the size of your thumb, are becoming more and more popular
for storing and transporting presentations and other important files. If you’ll
have a laptop waiting for you at your destination, you can save space by
traveling without one. Of course, you should also encrypt and password-protect
sensitive data stored on a thumb drive.

 

Have
fun.
Movies, games, and audiobooks
can make a long flight or unexpected layover less stressful.

 

Respect
others.
Use noise-reducing
headphones when you need sound.

 

Tackling Troubles

 

If your laptop or Blackberry does
act up while on the road, you can try to sleuth the problem yourself, call on a
tech-savvy colleague, access your company’s IT department remotely, or see if
the hotel you’re staying at has an IT person who can help.

 

Another option is to use a
computer-repair company such as Rescuecom. Founded in 1997 and headquartered in
Syracuse, NY, it has 95 franchises around the country. Those franchises are
concentrated on the East Coast and in California, but it also has a fair number
in the Midwest and Texas and a sprinkling in larger cities elsewhere.

 

The company provides 24/7
emergency on-site service, which you can access—with a contract or without—by
phoning 1-800-RESCUE7. Its main selling proposition is its fast response time.
If you request and pay for it, Rescuecom will guarantee a one-hour response.

 

Another option is using an online
repair service. PlumChoice Online PC Services, at <span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’>www.plumchoice.com
, can solve computer
problems remotely by viewing your computer screen through the Internet and
controlling your keyboard and mouse, while you watch. To take advantage of it,
of course, your computer and Internet connection can’t be completely trashed.

 

If you’re working on a critical
presentation and experience a computer glitch late at night, solving it quickly
can mean the difference between a successful trip and a washout.

 

Reid Goldsborough is a
syndicated columnist and author of the book <span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’>Straight Talk About the Information Superhighway
.
He can be reached at reidgold@netaxs.com or members.home.net/reidgold.

 

 

 

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