Traveling With Your Computer
Traveling with your computer can be a challenge for both business travelers and families who wish to stay connected while on the road. When you travel with your computer, it is important to keep your eyes open for scams designed to separate you from your computer. One such scam is described below:
This involves two people who look for a victim approaching a metal detector, carrying a laptop computer or other valuable carry-on baggage. The scam artists position themselves in front of the unsuspecting passenger and stall until the victim puts the laptop on the security system conveyor belt. Then the first hustler moves through the metal detector easily. The second deliberately sets off the detector and begins a very slow process of emptying pockets, removing jewelry, etc. While this is happening, the first hustler picks up the laptop as soon as it appears on the conveyor belt, walks away quickly, heads into the gate area, and disappears among the crowd. When the passenger finally gets through the metal detector, the laptop is gone, and there's no way of proving the person who set off the detector and employed the delaying tactic had anything to do with the theft. In fact, a third hustler will also sometimes be involved and the second hustler will hand-off the stolen items to him. Then the computer is out of the restricted area before anything can be done to stop the theft, even if the passenger becomes aware of it while still waiting on the other side of the metal detector.
It is believed that this widely practiced scam is happening at airports everywhere! What can you do to prevent it from happening to you? Of course, the obvious preventive measure is when traveling with a laptop computer or any hand carried valuables which must be placed on the airport's security conveyor belt for examination by x-ray, is to try and avoid lines at the entrance of the metal detector. Better yet, try to fly with a friend, and make sure one of you has cleared the detector before either puts anything on the conveyor belt! When you don't have a traveling companion and there are unavoidable lines, you must delay putting your luggage and laptop on the conveyor belt until you're sure you'll be the next person through the metal detector. As you move through the detector, keep your eyes on the conveyor belt and watch for your luggage and laptop to come through, as well as keeping a "sharp eye" on what those in front of you are picking up. Remember; it will be the persons in line close in front of you who are most likely to attempt the theft.
Several companies, such as Laptop Guardian and TrackIt Security, offer alarm systems that go off if your laptop is moved away from you. While there are many systems like this on the market, the best protection may be vigilance!
Before traveling with your computer, you may wish to go to Web site http://www.roadnews.com/ . While this site was designed for RV travelers, it contains links to hundreds of articles and tips that can help you when traveling with your computer. A few basic tips to follow are shown below.
When you go through airport security, you may be asked to turn your laptop on. Make sure your battery has enough power left to avoid delays. Performing a quick boot from a floppy diskette or CD-ROM drive may also speed up this process.
If firewalls and other security protocols make remote access of your e-mail difficult or impossible, consider acquiring software that will read your e-mail to you over the phone.
While most countries now have high-speed connections in the room, either wired or wireless, if you are traveling to remote areas, you need to double check. Call or fax the hotel before you leave home, and ask if the rooms are equipped with dataports. If not, are the phones modern, modular ones or are they hard-wired? Is the phone system analog or digital? Hotels in many countries often levy astronomically high charges for providing access to your long-distance provider. Save money by making shorter calls or using prepaid phone cards from local providers to call from pay phones.
One traveler reported that a hotel in Los Angeles charged him a $1.00 per local call charge. He also reported that another hotel made that charge apply only to the first 30 minutes. After that, it's 10 cents per minute. For anyone who uses a laptop to check e-mail, access company data while on the road, or do work related research from hotel rooms on the WWW, this policy can add a tidy sum to your hotel bill.
Digital Phone Systems
Digital lines can pass along electrical current, even without an active connection. Eliminate potential damage to your PC card or built-in modem by unplugging from hotel lines whenever you're not on line. High currents on digital lines can fry many PC connections. Don't connect unless you're sure the line is analog. If you're a frequent traveler, consider investing in a digital-compatible modem or coupler that will ensure you can always connect.
Hard-wired Phones / Acoustic Couplers
The most comprehensive set of adapters is useless if you can't unplug your phone or gain access to a phone jack. Circumvent the problem of hard-wired phones or improper adapters by bringing an acoustic coupler as well.
International Internet Access
The major Internet service providers (ISP's) maintain local access numbers around the world so you can go online by placing a local call. Get these numbers and check out the cost of the service before you leave home; they are generally available online or by calling the ISP's 800 number. If you need to access the Internet while abroad, plan ahead. ISP's offerings vary extensively in convenience and price, so finding the right solution at a reasonable price can entail substantial research. For one option, check out iPass at http://www.ipass.com .
Improve transmission performance for cellular data connections by using a modem pool whenever possible. These special cell sites, which are available from some service providers in selected areas, understand common error-correction protocols. You can usually connect to modem pools by dialing 3282 (DATA) before you dial your access number.
Preprogram Your Modem
Learn how to turn your modem's "ignore dial tone" command on and off to bypass a nontraditional foreign dial tone. Preprogram all your access numbers, credit-card numbers, and other remote-access information before you leave to save time while on the road. Make sure you have lots of alternatives in case the main access numbers are busy or down. Make sure your modem is prepared. Dial tones differ from country to country, and access numbers will change as well. Configure your modem in advance so it doesn't look in vain for a US dial tone or persistently ring the wrong number.
Carry a spare, basic PC card modem. They're cheap, light, and don't take up much space. You'll be happy you took one along when high-speed access is not available and internal modem suddenly quits in the middle of the night.
Another World Wide Web site that offers a lot of information for the person traveling with a computer is
http://businesstravel.miningco.com/mbody.htm?PID=2819&COB=home . When you go to this site, click on Travel Tips, found under the list of NetLinks. This will take you to an area with tips on airline travel, business travel, foreign travel, and laptop travel.
While there are many travel Web sites to help you with your travel plans, if you are traveling by air we highly recommend you check Delta Air Lines. We fly many miles per year and rate Delta as the best overall airline.
Till next month . . .
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