Tuesday, November 22, 2011

News Flash ... Bob has a tablet!

Finally ... a light at the end of the tunnel

For almost 25 years I've been trying to get Everlovin' interested in computers. When we lived in Naples, Florida, there was a wonderful computer club, PCBUG. The members were extraordinarily congenial, helpful, and in our age group, but he would never accompany me to a meeting. I set up side-by-side workstations in the house, and created a wireless network so that the laptop could be used without having to leave his favorite recliner. I shared forwarded email funnies and news stories of interest by handing him the laptop, and created an email account for him. None of this stimulated his interest one bit. He was always content to have his email forwarded to mine so that I could then read it to him, or print a hard copy.

Over the last several months I sensed a break-through. Every time he saw a tablet commercial on TV, whether it be a Kindle, an IPad, an HP TouchPad, or whatever, he always commented on it or asked some question about it. I took this to mean that he was somewhat interested. Now understand this: Everlovin' will go to any length necessary to avoid a situation where he could be perceived as uncool. I knew that he didn't know enough to know where to start shopping or what to look for, so I bought him a tablet, specifically, an Asus Transformer.

The device arrived yesterday, while I was at work. My love called to say that he had opened it and that it was indeed a pretty thing but I couldn't convince him to start the initial 8-hour charge so that we could play with it that evening. Later, it was revealed that he thought it was missing a cable as there seemed no way to connect it to a wall outlet. As this was an open-box special from ebay, that could have been the case, but thankfully, the prongs were folded inside the charger. The tablet charged all night and this morning, while I stood over his shoulder, our new tablet enthusiast tapped the onscreen keys to set up local weather, etc. The Asus made it easy as it immediately found our wireless network. I typed in the long access password to the network that has to be done only once as on-screen typing is a challenge in itself. I also configured the gmail account, after which for the first time ever, my love accessed and read his own email.

Those of you who know my husband know that he is a compulsive neatnik. New experience notwithstanding, his first concern was fingerprints on the touch screen. I cautioned him to keep his beloved Windex away from the Asus. We finished the lesson by taking a quick look at some of the pre-installed apps then put the Asus back to sleep to avoid [Bob's] becoming overwhelmed. He may play with it while I am at work this afternoon. Bottom line is ... I THINK HE LIKES IT!

A case for the unit is due to arrive in the next day or two. Obviously, we're going to need a screen protector and maybe a capacitive stylus. Probably we'll get a micro SDHC card which I will load up with books, a couple of movies, and any games that he takes a fancy to.

Stay tuned while my everlovin' moves into the computer age!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Things I Miss from Days Gone By - #3 - Enjoyable Air Travel

What's With Those Airline Folks Anyway?

Andy Rooney's gone, so someone has to step up and ask questions that need to be asked. I don't have Andy's talents, but I wonder about many of the same things, and it wouldn't be much of a stretch for me to become a female curmudgeon.

Right now, I'd like to plan a trip, or maybe even two trips. The departure point would be Athens, GA. Athens is a nice town but it doesn't have much of an airport, and getting out of town is a real hassle. Our first choice would be to fly from Greenville, SC. Greenville has a delightful airport, and even though it's a good two hour ride from our house, it's not a difficult drive. Atlanta is closer in miles and has a much larger airport with many more carriers but it's a horrible drive. My everlovin' is fully retired. I still work half-time, but can usually arrange to take a week off on occasion, so we're pretty flexible.

Here's the thing. With all the technology available and all the Internet sites that promise to get you the absolute best price, there is absolutely NO WAY THAT YOU CAN PRICE A TICKET WITHOUT INPUTTING A DEPARTURE DATE. Some sites will offer the extreme flexibility of departing a day or two from your preferred date. Big deal. We don't care when we go ... we just want to know when prices are lowest. "They" say that air transportation is down. In our case, if we found a good price, we would hop a flight several times a year but as it stands now, we pretty much limit ourselves to driveable destinations. Stand-by is not a good option if you have to drive a couple hours first and pay a hefty parking fee, then possibly sit in the airport for days, especially since the number of flights is constantly being reduced.

Why can't a site just display fares to and from given points for several upcoming months ... if necessary, with a disclaimer saying that prices could increase by a certain percentage?

On a related note, I tried to price Southwest Air flights from Greenville to Ft. Myers. No matter what date I entered for the return flight, I got an error message indicating that no flights from Ft. Myers to Greenville were scheduled for that day. It sounded as if they were
discontinuing service between those two points, so I emailed Southwest to ask if that was the case. The automated response indicated that they would respond within five business days, so I telephoned them. It turns out that as of March 10, they will only offer service between those two points on Saturdays. It happens that Saturdays is one of the two days each week that Allegiant, the super cheap base-fare budget airline, flies between nearby Charlotte County Regional Airport to Greenville. Why would Southwest choose to offer service for this route only on the same day that another airline already does? Beats me ... but I sure won't be buying airline stock anytime soon.

Does anybody else remember when people bought round-trip airline tickets
because they were cheaper than two one-way tickets but you could sell or give away the ticket for an unused segment? People seeking to buy or sell those one-way segments often advertised in the personal ad sections of newspapers. Fares were reasonable enough and there were no fees for changing plans, checking baggage, etc. I used to see a lot more of my family then, and flew a lot more often to other places too. "They" wonder why airline traffic has diminished ... and I wonder why charter airlines haven't grown exponentially.