Plugged and wireless

Plug and adapter

I feel so high-tech

I feel so high-tech, so 21st century. I have successfully solved two problems: plugging in my laptop to a UK outlet and making a wireless connection to the internet. Doesn't sound like much, but I am please with myself!

Mobile computing is wonderful — until the batteries run down. With most laptops, that seems to happen almost as soon as you start them up! With luck, I can get about an hour from the battery before it needs to be recharged. The cool thing is that the little AC/DC adapter can handle both 110V and 220V current, so the real problem when traveling is the plug. The British, bless their souls, use industrial-strength plugs that have three humongous blades.

Somewhere I have a whole bag of plug adapters that I bought years ago. Naturally I could not find these when I packed, so this morning I set out in search of one here. Samantha at the reception desk offered one that appeared to take any kind of plug except North American. "Oh, well," she said, "I'm sure you can find one in any tourist shop." So I set off to find a tourist shop, which wasn't hard, seeing as how there are at least five hundred such shops within a two block radius. At the first one I was offered an adapter that was clearly labeled "shavers only" but appeared to accommodate a North American two-prong plug (NEMA P-15, technically speaking). It was priced at the princely sum of £2.99. I handed over three £1 coins (this is always a good thing, paying with the coins, because they weigh a lot and accumulate faster than gerbils).

Plug and adapter

Back in my room, I inserted the plug from my laptop into the adapter and plugged the adapter into the wall. Voilà!

Then it was off to Starbucks to try out their T-Mobile hot-spot. Before leaving home I had carefully researched London internet cafes and had come with a list of possibilities. The last time I was here I had used the computers at Tower Records in Piccadilly Circus to check my email, but I thought it might be something of a challenge to find a place to connect my own computer. I certainly wasn't going to make an international dial-up connection! Then I found that Starbucks had established themselves in London, including wireless hot-spots as they have in the US.

To my great surprise, I found that getting connected was very simple indeed. Since everything else computer requires endless configuration and trial and error, I was hoping for the best but expecting the worst. No way! As soon as I powered up my laptop, the networking card popped up a dialogue window informing me that there were two wireless networks available and I should select one and click "Connect." I selected T-Mobile and the browser came up with a screen where I could log in or buy time under several different plans. (I had already tried the other one, thinking it might be free, but it wanted a WEP code that I didn't have.)

I selected the 120-minute plan (good for 30 days) for £14 , input my credit card number, and was immediately connected. Performance was excellent. Even better was that later, after I had restarted my computer, the T-Mobile connection came up automatically. If I don't use up all the minutes, I wonder if they'll work at the Starbucks in Palm Springs????


Meanwhile, a small group of youths arrived on scene to do some filming. This was definitely not the BBC! No, these had all the marks of being independent filmmakers.

The plot was a bit obscure to me. The first scene involved "finding" a can of Coke on the sidewalk, shaking it vigorously, then popping the tab to drink it. Dramatic interest was enhanced by the fact that the can didn't fizz when opened, not one bit. The second scene centered around an altercation between the young man and a young woman, in which the young man took the young woman's scarf and ran off with it through the crowd.

Cameraman sets up Cameraman sets up. Oh, will it be about me? I am ready for my closeup!
The young male protagonist (looking left) and the female character (back to camera)
Our hero gets last minute instructions Our hero gets last minute instructions
The director calls 'action!' for the first scene The director calls "action!" for the first scene
Filmmaking always attracts an audience Filmmaking always attracts an audience

I'm not pre-judging. With the right editing it could be part of an award-winning film.