07/11/2004, 8:58 PM - Blogging at 40,000ft to avoid Air Rage... (RANT)

After an incredibly busy October, I have found some time to return to blogging. Locked in a metal tube at 40,000ft seems a great time to get my thoughts down on "paper".


First - a quick discussion on technology and flying.  On my last 2 flights (to Vancouver and Montreal) I have noticed some incredibly poor technology travel etiquette from my fellow passengers.  So, let me share my 2 cents worth about how to make your techno travels more enjoyable.


Quick Draw McGraw: I am a road warrior - TabletPC, Creative Nomad, Mobile Phone.  I take this cache of gadgets through airport security each and every time I fly without issue or delay.  I am never asked "do you have a laptop" by airport security because I have it out and ready for inspection quickly.  There is nothing worse than being the guy in a busy airport that has to tear about their briefcase or carry-on luggage to find their laptop and digital camera.  You know you are going through security, so have your laptop handy.  For the sake of the 100 people in line behind you, I recommend a briefcase or backpack with a quick access laptop compartment.  Ogio (www.ogio.com) sells what I consider to be the absolute best bags with this and many other cool features.


The middle seats sucks, but deal with it:   On a packed Airbus 319 flight to Montreal last week I was sitting in the window seat in a 3 + 3 configured place.  The gentleman in the aisle seat was already their and our middle seat companion had not yet arrived.  About 10 minutes before departure he did turn up (and had obviously changed flights as many of us do on the Montreal - Toronto commute).  He was friendly and made a joke about "middle seat disease" or something along those lines.


That's when things went downhill.  He pulled out his laptop. 


Let me paint a picture for anyone who has not flown from Toronto to Montreal.  It is important to understand that they have crammed as many seats onto the plane as possible which means there is almost no room for anything other than remaining motionless for the duration of the flight.  I make it a rule not to use my laptop on flights like these for a couple of reasons.  First, you run the risk of damage from the person in front of you reclining their seat.  Craig, our Developer Audience Manager, had this exact thing happen to his tablet.  Second, unless you are a Hobbit there is no way to type without your elbows interfering with your fellow passengers.  This is the beauty of the TabletPC - "slate" mode and handwriting avoids this exact issue.


Back to "Mr. Middle Seat" - with his laptop charged he proceeded to update his calendar.  This involved him elbowing me in the ribs with each entry.  I didn't want to invade his privacy, but it was hard since his screen was so close to me that most of my field of vision was filled with the details of his sales calls and doctor appointments.  Odd thing was - it was the Palm Desktop software - which begs the question, "if you have a tiny little PDA why not use it when in such a confined space?".


The refreshment card came and I thought that was the end of the ordeal.  Alas, no.  Next came Flight Simulator.  I am a huge supporter of Microsoft Game Studios.  Flight Sim is one of the best games ever….. But not when you need to break the rib of the guy next to you to bank the plane to the right…. I honestly couldn't believe that this guy was playing a game under these conditions.


So… the moral of the story is:  if you are unlucky enough to end up in the middle seat, buy a magazine or a TabletPC…. (or avoid sitting next to me!)