Stay Plugged In
This Is Your Captain Speaking Besides technical discussions and recommended bars and restaurants around the world, the British-based Professional Pilots Rumour Network Web site (www.avnet.co.uk/pprune) has one of the Web's most riveting bulletin boards-- Rumours & News. Recent topics have included the Northwest Airlines strike, a drunken couple caught flagrante delicto en route to South Africa, and the Swissair crash in Nova Scotia. Then there was the talk about an underqualified pilot who supposedly falsified flight logs to get a job at a major Asian airline. As a pilot nicknamed CrashDive wrote, "One can only hope that when he 'sooner or later gets found out' that he hasn't got a planeful of people along with him." Let's hope the subject was the rumor part of the forum.
-- MATTHEW YEOMANS
Office in the Sky Malaysia Airlines has installed Business Centers in its new 777's. In a space about the size of a lavatory, they hold a thermal printer, a wall-mounted fax machine, and a satellite phone. Sit in the jump seat, place your laptop on a fold-down desk, and you're in business. There are two 115-volt, 60-hertz three-prong outlets, so you don't need an adapter to plug in your laptop or peripherals.
-- GEORGE HOBICA
E-mail?No, Sea-mail Cruise lines have finally found an alternative to those pricey ship-to-shore phone calls. For a mere $3, passengers on Crystal Cruises' Harmony and Symphony can send an E-mail of up to eight pages (it costs the same to receive one-- a crew member delivers a printout to your cabin); there's no charge for writing in the ships' computer centers. For $15, a passenger on Princess's new Grand Princess can spend an hour in the computer center writing and sending E-mail (as long as he or she has an Internet-based account). The cost of a phone call, by comparison, is about $10 per minute.
-- JIM GLAB
Calling Across Borders Bosch Telecom has great news for anyone frustrated by the fact that U.S. wireless phones don't work abroad. Their World 718 phone (distributed here by Audiovox; 800/371-8637) automatically detects which country it's in-- as long as it's in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, or Australia-- and switches frequencies. So you can take your phone out of the country and it will actually function.
Talking E-mail We all know how crabby people get when their E-mails aren't responded to quickly. But what if you've left your laptop at home or you have no place to hook it up?Using text-to-speech technology, E-Push (www.e-push.com; 215/887-5700, ext. 217) lets you hear your E-mail over the phone. (It sounds like a computer with a speech defect.) If you don't have the requisite Post Office Protocol, Version 3 (POP3) E-mail account-- America Online, CompuServe, and ATT.NET are not valid-- E-Push will provide you with a free one. The cost: $25 for the setup and a monthly fee of $14.95 (which covers 60 minutes of use; it's 10 cents a minute after that).
Like It Rough? The irreverent and opinionated Rough Guides are posting every page of all of their books-- even their top-selling Europe, United States, and London titles -- on the Web (www.roughguides.com/travel). "Some publishers may think we're crazy," says associate publisher Jean Marie Kelly, "but we're convinced that when people see how good the books are, they'll rush out and buy them."