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Magic Vacation Technology

November 22, 2010

The “Don’t touch my junk” guy popped into my head as my son and I inched along the security queue at Orlando Airport. What really concerned me were the vast contents of my new Swiss Army Laptop Backpack. What would the x-ray guy think when he looked inside the equivalent of Hermione Granger’s beaded handbag? Papa’s brand new bag was an emergency replacement for my old carrying case which disintegrated on a flight to Vegas the previous week. Anyway, Kyle and I slipped through security without a YouTube moment, but it did get me thinking about all the tangled technology that either assisted with or actually came on vacation with us…

Dot com, dot org and dot gov – Anyone reading this space probably already enjoys the wonders of internet travel sites, but here’s one good tip. When checking in on Southwest.com exactly 24 hours before your departure, use the National Institute of Standards and Technology site to tell you when that is. Well, within 0.3 seconds anyway… Hey, it got us on the “A” team.

Pick any car – I love the commercial with Johnny McEnroe yelling, “YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS,” and while the new workflow of the merged National-Alamo can be hit or miss, especially if all that’s left is some “old man” car, we picked a brand new Nissan Altima with just 299 miles on it! It’s a decent ride, and it includes 2 AV power sources (still not enough for a GPS, phone charger and DVD player) and an “AUX” audio input for…

Dueling iPods – Since the selections on our iPods are mutually exclusive, Kyle and I negotiated an agreement that he’d listen to his with ear buds while I scanned the Southeast US radio spectrum of country music, college football talk and Neil Bortz, who sounds a lot like Jessie “the Body” Ventura.

Betty White – That’s the nickname we gave the female voice of the Garmin 265T GPS we broke in during the trip. It’s a sweet 3.5” unit that includes live traffic. It did a great job getting us from BWI to Dumfries, VA to Savannah, GA to… Well, you get the idea, and I’d be a net promoter of the device except for this one little thing… THE BLUETOOTH WOULDN’T PAIR WITH MY…

Samsung Omnia – Sure, it’s now almost 3 years old, but my phone does Bluetooth and pairs just fine with my own car. The refusal of these two to dance was the most frustrating technology breakdown of the trip, and I don’t know which is to blame. Anyway, my lust for a new phone deserves its own post, so I’ll spare you here except to say it will need an on-screen keyboard that actually works and it will require “tethering” to my laptop in case I can’t hijack Wi-Fi from one of my Dad’s neighbors. Oh, and that capability needs to be without yet another monthly fee from my wireless provider…

OK, at this point, Kyle might say, “Dad, you’re killing it,” with regards to the length of this post, so I’ll just add that we also carried a Nikon D40 with 2 lenses, a Sony HD Camcorder, and a Kindle with all the wires, chargers and nuclear power plants needed to run them. Oh, and another thing…

Universal Studios – From their fingerprint gate and locker access to “The Forbidden Journey of Harry Potter” ride, there’s a lot of techno-magic behind the scenes at Universal. We lucked out with very short lines, but getting through the empty snake-like queue of the marquee ride was still daunting. The workflow designers do a good job of including “entertainment” through parts of the waiting line, but I can easily see how during peak times that line could have stretched two hours or more. Another tip: Stay at one of the 3 park hotels and you get to bypass most of the lines. The ride itself is a trip of imagery, sound and nauseating robotics, especially as we dangled face down for 5 minutes when it stalled. I’ll tell you this; I could never have played Quiddich without a pre-game performance enhancing Dramamine.

So my vacation getaway was a good one, but with all the technology swirling around us, you have to choose to actually get away. Work email is just a click away on my phone and I can’t say I didn’t do it. Oh, and of course I had to post live updates on Facebook every 14 seconds.

Maybe I need a vacation from technology.

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