Across the World with my Tech Toybox

by francine Hardaway on January 19, 2009

I just came back from India, a 40-hour flight when you consider all the layovers between planes (Phoenix to L.A., then five hours in LAX between L.A. and London, and six hours in Heathrow between London and Delhi). On the way home it was somewhat worse, except that I stayed overnight in both London and San Francisco, which was much better. That’s what happens when you opt for the cheapest fares.

However. I actually loved the long travel times this trip. Why? Because I traveled with my tech “toy box”: a MacBook Air, the iPod 3G, and the Kindle. A box full of customized content, they rendered me independent of Virgin Atlantic, which was showing about twenty different crummy movies in three different languages and playing the least-known music in every category for which there was a channel.

Yes, Virgin Atlantic has in-flight Internet, but not in the cargo area.

So here’s how I did it. I’d start by reading feeds on Google Reader, or by posting to my blog. When the Air ran out of battery, or perhaps by some strange chance I caught up on the feeds, I’d switch toys.

Usually, the next toy I’d take out would be the Kindle, on which I read both The Age of American Unreason, by Susan Jacoby, Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates, and part of Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers. I never was able to run the battery down on the Kindle, although I never charged it at all while in India. (It’s not that easy to charge devices, since in any given room with three electrical outlets, only one is usually truly working, and I needed that one to charge my iPod and my Air.) Revolutionary Road was so good that I actually was fighting to finish it before the flight landed, and unbelievably wanted a ten-hour flight to be a few minutes longer☺

If the cabin crew turned out the lights, or I wanted to meditate or seek sleep, I could listen to anything I had with me on the iPod, which lasts the entire flight from Delhi to San Francisco on one battery if it’s in Airplane mode. This time I used listening to the version of The White Tiger, a superb novel about life in India. I also listened to this book at night when I had jet lag and woke up at 3 AM.

And then don’t forget the podcasts I downloaded to the iPod. I kept up with ScobleizerTV, Rachel Maddow, TWiT, Bill Moyers, Obama’s weekly address, and Fresh Air. Oh, by the way, I’ve got those fabulous Bose Q2 noise-cancelling headphones to listen with. (Buppy started to eat them one night, but I caught him before he had done anything but detach one earpiece from the headset. They aren’t pretty, but they still work.)

Last, but certainly not least, was the music. I have about 500 songs on the iPod as well, and I sure didn’t get through very many of them on the flights with all the other stuff I could watch and listen to.

I can remember earlier flights, toyless, that seemed endless, and other long flights on which I had to carry three books with their attendant extra weight and bulk. The other joy of my tech toy box is that I took this ten-day jaunt to India with no baggage to check – just a laptop bag for my toys and a carry on bag for my clothes.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Izzy Video January 19, 2009 at 2:32 pm


Unbelievable, but I’m actually a little jealous of your lengthy travel time. What a great chance to consume so much content without any interruptions or other responsibilities!

I also have a Macbook Air, a Kindle, and an iPhone. All three are brilliant devices.

Also, the discussion of battery management is a nice detail.

francinehardaway January 19, 2009 at 2:42 pm

Be jealous:-) I feel the same way about the opportunity to read actual books without interruption. I never get to do that anymore. That’s why I didn’t want cell phones on airplanes and I’m not sure I am sorry not to have Internet for twelve hours at a time (although no longer!)

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