Mac UK

Travelling with Your iBook

How to conquer continental nonconformity

Dirk Pilat - 2001.08.15

Dear Low End Mac Community all over the world, whether you are roasting away during a record European Summer (global warming? No, temperatures in Germany higher than in Portugal should be welcomed, as it reduces the need to actually travel to these parts), sweltering in the U.S. while your President is enjoying week three of another one of his Holidays (and I always thought that U.S. citizens were only entitled to 13 days off. Oh well, he's the , isn't he? I'm sure that the 42 percent of total presidency time he's been at his various resorts so far he's been eagerly telecommuting with PowerBook G3his Lombard PowerBook, playing Total Annihilation with Dick Cheyney), or shivering in the antipodean winter of Australia and New Zealand, I bid you a hearty welcome to this most nonsensical of Low End Mac columns. (This sentence makes sense. Just read it again!)

As I mentioned in the "spaghetti paragraph" above, it is the time of the year when presidents and mere mortals like you and me turn their thoughts and hearts towards those few weeks (well, it's actually six weeks in Europe and the UK, but as this is an international column, we're not going to rub it in) when we follow our hearts desires and venture towards beaches, mountains or naff holiday parks (or in my case, do a couple of extra shifts in Emergency Rooms to finance that hole on your credit card statement that the new iBook left) to relax and rejoice, try to ignore any sensible dietary advice, or just get laid (as I am quite happy with my girlfriend, the latter obviously doesn't apply to me, but I thought I raise a few eyebrows just to gain some profile).

Some of us even take their iBooks with them, and this is where the problems begin: The iBook this column was typed on was bought in London (United Kingdom, a small but pompous little island in front of the European north coast, for the geographically challenged) and was obviously fitted with all the trimmings that you would need to use it in a British environment: AC adaptor, keyboard, and modem cable all designed for use on this last bastion of anti-europeism, where they only comply to European standards when threatened with a hefty fine from the European court or another trade boycott.

After trying it out in numerous E.R.'s between Myrthir Tyrdfil and Weston Super Mare, I decided to do the ultimate test and take my iBook through a couple of days of vacation on the mainland, where there are countries by the bucketload (some as small as the Bronx or Queens) and try to connect it to the Internet as often as I can.

The first problem you'll encounter is the abundance of different systems to hook up your modem to: Every country has it's own system to plug a phone cable into the wall, so you'd better travel with one of these "continental phone travel adaptor collections" that you'll find at Heathrow Airport (but not on the continent). After that problem is solved, you want to charge your iBook - again, only one of the "continental AC adaptors" will help.

So now that you've got your computer charged and plugged in a phone line, what ISP are you going to use? In the good old days we all had Compuserve accounts to access CS and the Internet from everywhere in the world, but since they were bought by AOL and were more expensive than European fuel, a lot of people said good-bye to them (do they still exist?). So, who're ya gonna call? Do a little long range call to your ISP wherever your from? If you're from Namibia or Tashkent and take your holiday in Australia, that might be a mightily expensive thing to do, as you are probably only going to establish a 2400 baud connection over these crap phone lines - and downloading your 250 HTML-enhanced messages (90 percent spam) is going to take you an hour or two, wasting enough money for an intercontinental flight.

Either you use your hotel's ethernet (if you're so lucky) or you chuck the iBook in a corner, swallow your pride, and join the gazillions of teenagers using chatrooms at one of the large Internet cafe chains (like "easyeverything": the money on my account please, stelios), but don't forget to redirect your email from your personal account to one of the webmail services (everything but Hotmail, obviously).

Prepared with this bit of advice, you should be able to enjoy this year's holiday in Europe just as we Europeans do: Being drunk all day, staring at half-naked French women (or men, depending on the sex or lifestyle you prefer), and playing Cro Mag Rally on your iBook.

Prost! LEM

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