Before I get into it, I want to first thank everyone who chimed in over e-mail and in the forums, sharing their shovelware horror stories after last week's crank-fest. I wish I had time to respond to everyone, but someone, somewhere pointed out a program that everyone needs to know about: PC Decrapifier. Install this on your brand-new machine and it'll strip out just about all the unwanted junk. You're welcome. Okay, onto this week's rant!
Enter Wireless Charging
[A public Mea Culpa to Jared. I didn't think I was making a personal attack, merely providing a counterpoint. I cut out a couple bits that might've been misconstrued, but the thought is still there: I was in the room and used it and don't fully agree with master Newman's assertions.]
Hi, I'm Darren Gladstone. You might remember me from Casual Friday and my many laptop reviews. Now, in my copious free time--sleep is for the weak!--I'm also contributing to the Mobile Computing blog.
Occasionally, I'll tell you what cheeses me off about the state of mobility, and answer some of your questions in the process. And--fair warning--I may occasionally go off-script. So, let's start off with an easy target: shovelware that comes for "free" on your laptop.
Seven years ago, this blog you're reading now was an online column offering advice on such things as traveling with a PDA in lieu of a laptop. On that particular topic, I wrote that accessing the Internet on a PDA was like "driving cross-country in a Pinto with a cracked windshield--painfully slow and monumentally irritating." One of the main options for checking e-mail on a handheld, I explained, was to connect the PDA to "a dial-up modem and a landline connection."
We've come a long way since then, don't you think? And I've thoroughly enjoyed the journey, reporting every week on the collective digital path we've been on. But after nearly eight years of writing Mobile Computing, this blog post is my last. It's time for me to move along my own path. I'll still contribute to PC World on mobile technology, social media, and other topics.
Before I log off, however, I'd like to pass along five lessons that I've learned along the way.
If it hadn't been so crazy expensive to use Google Maps on my Apple iPhone 3GS while I was in the UK, I might never have met Elizabeth. I probably wouldn't have made it to that charming inn/pub high up on the hill, either. And my trip would have been a bit less rewarding as a result.
Funny thing about the iPhone, RIM BlackBerry, Palm Pre, Google Android device, and other smartphones. Once we submit to the two-year contract and get used to paying the monthly ransom, we tend to grow dependent upon our phones. We read e-mail at stoplights. We book a dinner reservation on OpenTable while in a checkout line. Getting the latest news or sports scores or texting a buddy become almost unconscious activities.
We do all sorts of things with our smartphones--until we take them overseas. That's because rates for data roaming (and voice calls) can add up faster than a heavy lunch at Harrod's food court.
For Star Trek fans, space is the final frontier. For travelers, it's a never-ending challenge. What do you decide to pack in your oh-so-limited carry-on and checked baggage space? It's a vexing question, especially given that most airlines charge you to check a bag. Last week, I guided you to the laptop, netbooks, and smartphones well worth giving space to. This week, a look at the best digital camera and GPS device, plus where to find the best gear bags.
Digital Camera: Canon Powershot SX200 IS
Based on Tim Moynihan's glowing review, the Canon Powershot SX200 IS seemed like the ideal camera to take on my summer vacation. Here's what caught my eye:
After years of fits and starts, Wi-Fi on airplanes is finally taking off. I've had the pleasure of staying connected to the Internet from San Francisco to New York, and I highly recommend the experience.
At the moment, however, in-flight wireless Internet access is far from ubiquitous. And it can be difficult to determine in advance if a flight you're considering has the service. For example, American Airlines currently offers Wi-Fi on some of its MD-80 aircraft, but not all. When you're booking your flight at American's Web site, there's no way to tell if a particular flight offers wireless access.
This is true for many airline Web sites, except for those like Virgin America, which offers in-flight Wi-Fi onboard all flights. The reason is that when Wi-Fi is only on some planes within a certain aircraft type (like American Airlines' MD-80s), the airline may need to switch planes on a route at the last minute for mechanical or other reasons. When an airline promises Wi-Fi on that flight and then can't deliver, they've likely disappointed at least a subset of that flight's passengers before the plane even takes off.