Well, I‘m back. I had an amazing time in Las Vegas, seeing the sights, gambling and eating some of the world’s finest and worst cuisine. I ended up winning just enough money playing poker to pay for the trip and food and cover my losses at the craps tables. By the way, if you ever reach onto the table while I’m shooting the dice, I absolutely will cut your hand off.
But enough about my hobbies; I have one more update I wanted to throw out now that I’m on the East Coast again. There are some gadgets I brought along with me to test out for just such an occasion.
First of all, this week was a prime chance to try out my new Butterfly from American Express. I have been a Gold Card member for two years, and one day last month, I got this box on the mail from Amex. In the box were a new card and a keychain, which I thought was weird because I had just received my new credit card a few weeks previously. Then I realized that the keychain was actually a new gadget that allowed you to fold up your card and carry it on your keychain wherever you went.
I thought this was absolutely absurd at first and thought I would lose it with a degree of certainty.
The card is actually a neat new toy. The number on the butterfly card is different than the regular card, so if you do indeed lose your keys or the butterfly gadget, you don’t have to replace your entire Gold Card account.
The first unsuspecting merchant I sprung the butterfly on was the bartender at Wolfgang Puck’s in Boston’s Logan Airport, and he had no clue what I was giving him.
“It’s kinda neat, but I thought you were giving me your keys,” he said.
Next test, I removed my keys from the butterfly as I clearly did not need them in Las Vegas. Oddly enough, we ate at another Wolfgang Puck’s, this time at Spago in Caesar’s Palace. No comments this time; the waiter took the metal trinket, opened it and swiped it, bringing it back with a slightly larger monthly balance pending.
Overall…interesting status symbol toy, but I don’t think I’ll be abandoning my wallet and “traditional” cards anytime soon.
Now, I needed to be able to post my “notebook” series while I was in Vegas, and I did that by bringing my Dell Latitude D610, which is one of the best Dell notebooks I’ve ever used. It’s powerful enough to fire up Photoshop and light enough to carry on my arm across the airport terminal when the connecting flight from Boston to New York is an hour late and we’re running to catch the boarding Vegas flight, which we barely made-and our luggage didn’t until the next day-THANK you Jet Blue.
But the laptop isn’t what I’m here to discuss, nor is the worthless 40 minute flight from Boston to New York that took three hours to accomplish.
LapWorks, with the slogan: “When it comes to mobile computing…we’ve got your lap,” has a few products out there that will make your life easier if you’re a traveler like me who needs his or her laptop in inconvenient places like an airplane or hotel bed.
The company’s public relations efforts are headed by Michelle Moody of Moody & Associates, and she’s been able to generate considerable play for the Laptop Desk product line, including an article in USA Today and a top 10 holiday list on ZDNet a while back.
The product is almost too simple, when you think about it. It’s just two pieces of strong molded plastic that can either hinge on top of each other to boost the laptop to a better angle or fold out flat creating a comfortable mouse surface. It folds up to about 1.4″ thick and fits perfectly in my laptop bag, adding almost no additional weight.
I tested the “ultralight” model on Vegas and tested out the 2.0 model since. I used the products, and I’m happy with the products. Good job, LapWorks on creating a buzz for your product which fixes a common inconvenience for laptop users.
I came to a sad realization, however, during my trip. My pride and joy digital camera, the Canon SD110 Digital Elph, is nearing the end of its lifespan. It still works perfectly, but at only 3.2 megapixels and 2x optical zoom, it really isn’t cutting any edges anymore. It also takes too long to focus and take the shot. Turning the camera on, pointing, focusing and shooting is a five second project, and sometimes that’s too much.
But, the old Elph is a beautiful camera that I am sad to report is just getting old. And this is something, after two years of ownership that you didn’t used to have to say about a camera. I am thinking of staying in the Canon family with an SD630 in the future, but I’ll ask you, the educated reader, to help me out on that one with any comments.
On the subject of all things digital, the last gadget I carried was my Nextel Motorola i560. I can write a book on why I made a mistake switching to Nextel, but I will stick with it’s public relations deficit: they’re not even trying anymore. The biggest buzz-generator to hit Nextel in the last year and a half has been their merger with Sprint in 2005. The company will be keeping the Nextel iDEN network (with the walking-talking service) through at least 2010, so any benefits the consumer is hoping for through this merger are far from coming.
Not only is the Nextel voice service terrible, the i560, marketed by Nextel as a “rugged flip phone” that “adheres to Military Standard 810F for dust, shock, vibration, temperature extremes, low pressure, and solar radiation…performs in extreme outdoor environments and stands up to dusty environments, drops, exposure to vibration from heavy machinery use, and hot/cold climates,” has a little problem.
I can throw it against the wall, bury it in sand, put it in the freezer and expose it to x-rays, but when I was playing poker at Caesar’s on Wednesday afternoon, I had the phone in my pocket and noticed the phone had turned off. And then again Wednesday night it turned off a few times. A few more times Thursday. My brother and father, both much longer Nextel subscribers than I, have the same phone and had the same problem. There is a defect in the phone where the battery comes loose and the phone shuts off.
So much for using this phone in the heat of battle with bullets flying past and extreme elements pushing the phone to the brink: the phone was no match for the front pockets of my Gap khakis.
Those were the things I carried in Vegas. It was a balmy 110 degrees when we left, but there were clouds throughout the week and I even heard a rumor that it rained while I was buried in the Harrahs’ poker room Friday night. If you’re in Vegas, don’t miss The Buffet at Bellagio. You’ll pay $30 for it, but it is by far the best buffet I’ve ever eaten at. Try the Chicken Wellington and buffalo tipped steak. If you’re looking for some alternative poker games, Paris has a nice little poker room in the middle of things with nightly Omaha tournaments. I really liked the ambiance of the Paris casino over many of the other places that seemed to run together.
Also while in the air to and from Vegas, my good friend Mark Scalia and I were able to get some reading done. He finished The Professor, The Banker, and The Suicide King en route and One of a Kind on the return flight. Both are great looking poker books if you’re looking for an interesting read. The first book tells tales of ultra-high-stakes poker games where people literally throw down millions. The ladder is the story of card legend Stuey Ungar.