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Random questions, mostly about US travel

1. I'm doing a lot of flying in the US in the next few weeks. TSA guidelines theoretically permit ipads and netbooks up to 11.6" to stay in your carry-on during screening, while requiring larger laptops to be screened separately (with the concommitant risk of damage/theft you'd expect). Do they actually observe this guideline, or can I expect to have to do the unpack-everything dance even with a netbook or tablet?

2. I have an unlocked mifi. Last time I visited the only reasonable deal for a pre-paid data-only SIM for it was from T-Mobile, on GSM/EDGE only. Are any other vendors selling pre-paid data-only SIMs in the USA? (Note that AT&T want credit card billing details, which isn't acceptable because I don't have a US credit card. Yes, I know all about the Virgin Mobile pre-paid mifi that's actually a Sprint EV-DO device. It's a pile of crap. I want a SIM with data that I can pay cash up-front for with no strings. Yes, it is acceptable if it expires after 30 days. No, I do not want to take out a US cellco contract: I don't visit for long enough.)

3. (Mac software specific.) I have a requirement for a combined outline processor and mind-mapping tool, similar to Inspiration, but with import/export of OPML format outlines as well as pretty pictures. (Because I may not be working, but I'll still be making notes while I travel.)

Alas, Inspiration decided to go after the schoolkid market and don't support import/export in any usable format (except Microsoft Office, which I don't consider to be "usable" for my purposes—I need OPML to feed to Scrivener). The nearest I've found to a workable solution so far is that OmniOutliner for iPad and IThoughtsHD can both import/export each other's OPML and play nice together. This is very close to what I need, but the ability to flip instantly between outline and mind-mapping views of a project would be good, and I could do with a decent desktop application on the Mac. (Got OmniOutliner Pro; it's great for outlining, not so good at the mind-mapping stuff.) Anyone got any suggestions? As noted, Inspiration lacks import/export features, OmniOutliner lacks mind-mapping features, and XMind seems to lack outlining features. Any suggestions?



1) My experience in the last few months has been "All laptops and electronic devices out of bags, including iPads".

2) I've not found anything passable for pre-pay GSM data in the US apart from T-Mobile, even with a US credit card.

  • The last couple of times I've been through the US I have been told to remove my iPad as well as my 13" Macbook Air from my carry on bag.

  • I have an unlocked '4G' iPad bought in Canada, and was able to get an AT&T sim for it in the US. I bought a pre-paid visa card and, with some help from the AT&T staff, used the address of the AT&T store as my billing address and added credit to the SIM using that. LTE speeds were very impressive, although limited to major urban areas.

  • Have a good trip.


    Do X-rays scramble modern hard disks? Just a random thought.


    No, X-rays do not scramble hard disks. At least, unless they're so intense they melt the casing (hello, Los Alamos!).


    My experience: 1. re TSA inspections: Go with the flow. To ease your passage, take out iPad, laptop, take off belt and shoes. Avoid arguing about any rules or what happened at other airports. Can keep iPad/laptop in padded slip case. Remove everything from all pockets (to go thru the new full body scanners). Put iPad/laptop last plastic bin as odds are it will be going through x-ray scanner while you are being scanned which reduces theft risk. 2. I've never found any pay-as-you-go SIM cards for data. Searched on web and asked at most phone shops, including Apple Store. Instead, I judiciously used by UK data plan (£6/mb) and looked for free WiFi' (been mostly lucky). 3. Like you, I use OmniOutline on Mac and iPad. Use iThoughtsHD on ipad to draw the diagram. Works. Surely others. Tried a few and could not put up with complexity.


    Freemind on Mac and iThought HD on iPad interoperate. That and Dropbox is a winner for me.


    If you like iThoughts HD have you looked at it's "big" brother iThoughts? At least for that side of things. I can't speak to how good it is for your needs because they're all incredibly personal I think (and I don't work well with mind-mapping software, I just don't creatively work that way).

    There's a fairly extensive review of some alternatives (read the comments too) at as well.

  • I've been scolded in the past for having too many gadgets in a carry on (iPad + Galaxy Tab + 6" Kindle). I'm guessing that the netbook rule isn't well understood or communicated to the rank and file screeners.

  • I've had a good run of using the AT&T prepay tablet tariff - I usually get the $30 for 3GB for a month, and I don't see why this wouldn't work with an AT&T SIM bought off eBay. Amex cards seem to work OK for me when using this (I haven't tried anything else). Just pick a random address in the US (I tend to go for an office of the company I work for). Be careful to turn off the auto renew. When I first used this on an unlocked Galaxy Tab I had to change the APN to BROADBAND. I can report no issues using my tablet as a mobile hotspot using this tariff.

  • 9:

    Rob, I'm ahead of you on all your travel tips -- except the stuff I'm specifically asking about.

    And I'm asking about it for a reason.

    (I have travelled with an iPad and a Macbook Air 11" in the USA before, and been told to leave them in my carry-on as per the reg. I mentioned. I'm asking if this is now standard or whether there are specific deviations from it. And yes, I know better than to argue with the TSA. I'm asking because if I have to remove the Airbook at each checkpoint I might as well fly with my main work machine instead -- but if it saves me time at the 6+ checkpoints I'll be hitting in 4-5 days, I'll go for the time-saving option.)


    Last time in went to the US, about 3 years ago, I subscribed to a no strings attached monthly contract from T Mobile with "unlimited" data (2GB limit or something like that). I paid one month with my european visa card and cancelled at the end of the month.

    They keep changing their plans but it looks like this is the equivalent at the moment:

    They want to sell you a phone with it but you can choose a sim card instead.

    have a nice trip,



    Have you looked at IHMC Cmap Tools? This is the tool I've used for a number of years to have students build concept maps.


    I haven't had any problem with my iPad at LaGuardia or O'Hare. No netbook experience to relate. I also managed to (twice!) forget about my teeny-tiny Victorinox and not have it caught. My carry on is usually so crammed with electronics (and, on the way back to the UK, Milk Duds... )that they stare at the xray for a long time but thenit comes through.

    Last time I looked at the prepaid data market for a trip home to the US (about 6 months) it was still non-existent beyonbd the craptacular ones you mention. I ended up buying a Starbucks prepaid card and then a bad cup of coffee with it. The card gives WiFI access at all Starbucks though. If you do find a decent solution PLEASE pass it on!


    I flew to JFK two weeks ago. When asked, they said to take my IPad out of the carry on bag. Not sure if they would have noticed if not asked, so I'm not sure how helpful this is.


    IHMC Cmap Tools compare to what I'm looking for the way LaTeX compares to Claris Works, unfortunately ... I'm looking for a graphical brainstorming/mind-mapping/outlining tool that doesn't get in my way with spurious extras oriented around generating presentations or collaborating with a team of cow-orkers or handling project management, but which supports easy interoperability with Scrivener (hence, OPML).


    Yep, iPads and laptops need to come out of your bag and any sleeves. Inexplicably, eBook readers don't.


    I flew back to Toronto through LAX three montths ago, and while I pulled my 15" MBP out, the TSA didn't complain about my iPad and SLR that I left in my Camera bag.

    Each of the five or so agenst seemed to be more concerned about asking me repeatedly if I had removed my belt before entering the scanner.


    I've never had any trouble leaving my iPad in my bag.


    My solution to that problem: trousers that work without needing a belt.


    How much time does it take you to remove a machine from your bag and then put it back in again? 30 seconds? A minute? (personally, for me, it's around 10 seconds; see below). It takes longer to empty my trouser pockets and put stuff back in again!

    Is that lost time going to be usable time, if recovered?

    Given the amount of time you're gonna spend in transit, standing in queues, arriving in sufficient time to handle potential queues at security and check-in, are you optimising the right thing?

    Also, considering how much enforcement is up to the individual TSA employee, if you're going through 6 checkpoints without removing the item, how much time will you lose when just one of these agents decides to look closer? I try to prioritise the "reduce chance of fuckup" metric, and so I do take my 10" netbook out (but the phone, ebook reader, media player etc all stay in the bag). I organise my packing, accordingly, with the netbook in the most accessible part of the bag (hence 10 seconds).


    Quick suggestion for if you are concerned about airport security : Buy some Padded/A4 envelopes and put the portable computer inside one of them before you go to the airport. Get an old Japanese EMS envelope if you can as it will be covered in gibberish and no one will touch it.

    Put an address on it. It looks like a package, open it on the aircraft and throw the envelope away if you don't want it anymore. Repeat as needed.


    1: Not exactly the same, but an anecdote that I feel certainly applies: I recently traveled with my Motorola Lapdock for Motorla Atrix (laptop like dock for phone). I reviewed the requirements at first and felt confident that I could leave the lapdock in bag. I discussed with one of the TSA attendants who brought another attendant over. After about 5 minutes they decided that well, they'd take it out on the other side anyway if there were any problems. There were no problems. That said, this was perhaps the only recent flying experience where some part of my belongings was NOT searched. I know this may not help re: whether or not to bring a bigger laptop, but I think shows fairly clearly that the TSA on the floor are unfamiliar with the regulations.


    It's not just time; it's risk of loss or damage to the machine in question.

    (Especially as, confronted with a TSA backscatter X-ray machine, I always do the opt-out dance, as a matter of principle.)


    Have never had t remove my iPad flying through Houston, Atlanta, Dulles/DC, Palm Beach, San Francisco.

    T-Mobile have a 3G pay as you go personal hotspot. I have one tucked in my hurricane emergency kit.


    My recent experience is:

    1) You have to remove them from the carry on if they're inside another bag. You don't however have to remove them from a slip case or certain other types of dedicated bags (and I didn't).

    2) T-Mobile have a $2/day PAYG plan that provides "unlimited" data. I've used it a number of times and order my SIM online through the likes of SIM Card Guru. They can even pre-cut it to micro-SIM format for you. This is the approach I've taken when I've been visiting in the last few years and it works fairly well.


    My most recent US trip was in early July. Trouble is, anecdotal sampling isn't that useful. I need to know if these general regs are being violated by local officials.


    Local TSA personnel are theoretically supposed to follow the national guidelines. In practice, they do whatever. So although iPads are supposed to be okay and you are not required to take them out, some places and/or people will still require that you do. In my most recent trip out of NYC (from LGA), people were not required to take out their iPads at LGA, but at my return from crappy-li'l-airport, they were requiring people to remove all electronic devices.

    Basically, it's a crapshoot. If I had to bet, I'd bet that at an international airport you would be fine, and that at domestic-only airports you'd be "asked" to remove it half the time.


    I've been through security multiple times with a UMPC and they've never treated it as a laptop


    Flew through SeaTac on Tuesday with a tablet; they said 'anything electronic larger than a coke can'.


    The last time I bought a SIM card in America, I had to show ID. I was told this was some Federal law. It could have been the Radio Shack guy screwing with me.

    And when it comes to the TSA, they'll tell you what they want you to do about 400 times while you're in line.


    I travel every other week for work. For the last 3-4 months they seem to be telling you to remove your iPad consistently. However, they also consistently to fail to notice if you don't. This happens so regularly that I suspect they simply can't see the thing very well on their screens.


    I've had no trouble leaving an iPad in my carryon luggage. The one time I left both my iPad and a MacBook Air in a carryon, I was criticized by the TSA for not removing the MacBook Air.


    The US is in my experience a third world country when it comes to mobiles and especially when it comes to mobile data. I went through three different SIM cards last year when I was over there. T-mobile was crap, two different SIMs failed, and AT&T had both poor coverage and speeds even in the cities and along the Interstates. I ended up doing anything useful at Dairy Queen, Starbucks or the hotels I stayed in. Free Wifi is available everywhere.


    I just flew from Newark to Madison Wisconsin and back. I'm also trying the least hassle approach cause the last time I did this I lost my driver's license and almost couldn't get on the plane for the return trip. In that case the Madison TSA guys were very nice (Hmm a new strategy for getting on with no id?)

    I had a carry-on bag and a camera case with a kindle in an outside pocket. No problem from Newark. At Madison I had to remove the kindle, and when I put the driver's license in my pocket to avoid losing it again, after the xray I was asked to show what I had in my pocket. "crapshoot" - right.


    Was "cow-orkers" deliberate or a typo? Either way, it's fabulous. Much more evocative.


    I travel quite a bit for work ( 2/3 times a month) and almost always with an iPad. I'm very rarely asked to take out the iPad. The last time I was asked to take it out was because I was also travelling with a Kindle and the Kindle was on top of the iPad in my bag (at least when it was lying flat to go through the scanner); a too many screens problem.

    I'd agree that access to pay as you go is pretty terrible in the US. That said, speeds on an LTE iPad are screamingly fast. My understanding (possibly wrong) is that LTE hasn't rolled out across Europe yet. So I think the "US is in my experience a third world country" is a little overblown.


    I have a device, smaller than any cell phone, 6x6 cm I think, 6h claimed battery life, provides Sprint 4G, costs $100 shipped next day to your door (well, a door in the USA), and they have been half off for two months now. You can pick them up retail (Fry's, for instance), and they are $50 a month, no contract. Fairly happy with mine. And you can use what ever Sprint 4G device you have, generally. They are the people who provide Sprint's 4G service, so there is NO 3G on them, so not working on the interstates between cities. They do have a nice coverage map, which seems accurate (damn it, I live on the edge of a NIMBY hole, so mine only works on one side of my house).


    You don't read Dilbert, do you?


    I've been using a ATT gophone simcard in an unlocked nokia I bought in Germany for the last two years. The prepaid data is 1 cent per KB without an auto-debit setup (I'm not a huge data user) but it's not the worst thing out there.

    If you like OmniOutliner, maybe OmniGraffle would be useful for mindmapping? It does a graph view / outline view of things with automatic layout of outlines. I presume it would play well format wise.


    In re. TSA asshattery: * Leave the big laptop-y tablet-y stuff out. If you're aware of any actual theft at the scanners, please share info. * Best way to avoid the backscatter is to fiddle with your stuff on the X-ray scanner belt until there's 2-3 people waiting for the backscatter scanner. TSA will then wave you through the metal detector, no refusal or TSA Grope required. * Sometimes there's a security lane with no backscatter scanner, just a metal detector. * If you wind up having to refuse the backscatter, The Grope has scaled back a fair bit. A little bit of sympathy for the Groper goes a long way - they give that job to the lowest man on the totem pole.

    In re. data service: * If you get desperate, consider "Consumer Cellular", a no-contract cell service aimed at cottontops. They're on the AT&T network so you're not in T-Mobile's EDGE ghetto. Unfortunately, their top data plan is 500GB for $40. * If the "US credit card required" thing gets to be a problem, do note that your publisher's A&R folks should have access to hot and cold running credit cards. * Failing that, you do have fans with CCs, and a loaded data SIM doesn't cost much more than a few good beers.


    "I'm asking if this is now standard or whether there are specific deviations from it."

    Last time I went through the line (about 4 weeks ago) I took my Thinkpad out and left my 7" tablet in the backpack with no trouble. This was leaving from Tampa to Chicago. Of course, I suspect the local TSA at each airport probably gets their marching orders from the local bosses and your mileage may vary within a larger range of directives.


    Sorry, that shouldve been 1c/5kB for the current gophone rate above.


    Quite good Macworld article on OPML mind mapping apps that I happened to have open:


    1- TSA - I have been through Seattle, Chicago, Dallas, St Louis, Calgary, Atlanta, and JFK in the past year. In all cases I had to remove all electronics from my bag. (nook, android tablet, laptops)

    2- All GSM in the US has problems with coverage. Everyone is making compromises and it tends to suck. The main AT&T network is ok, I am on it. But my wife's T-Mobile is only good locally and in our most recent house, we had to switch to Sprint's network for coverage. T-Mobile doesn't work where I live now, though it does a few blocks away. OTOH my last address didn't work for AT&T, a localized dead zone.

    3- I can't help with MAC SW.


    Glad to see other people who opt-out of this useless invasion of privacy. The TSA does not love me, but they're getting better at following the script for the pat down. When they forget, I know it well enough to remind them of my rights.


    "I need to know if these general regs are being violated by local officials."

    That's the problem in a nutshell. If they do ignore the national directives there's not shit all you can do about it. Complain and they'll pull you out for a cavity search and put you on the "no-fly" list. Try getting off that in your lifetime.

    "Land of the free and home of the brave" pretty much died on 9/11.


    For outlining/task/notekeeping, I'm finding is a fantastic tool with great sharing options. No offline / app access of any kind yet. As long as you can get online it works great on Mobile Safari.


    Offline working is mandatory for my purposes. And an open file format for permanent document retention. I'm willing to use closed source applications, but only if they let me own my data.


    Of the 3 different US airports I've flown through recently all were different - so I think your answer (as others have said) is that local officials do follow the rules differently.

    One wanted all electronics larger than a cell phone out and unbagged. One wanted all electronics larger than a cell phone out, but were ok in certain bags. The last simply wanted laptops out and weren't concerned by tablets or netbooks. That said, the first had the oldest gear and the last the newest, so it may be at least party a function of the tools they have to scan your bags.

    I've learned to check the signs and then check what's being asked of those ahead of me (and in other queues I can see). I am however always prepared to have such items out quickly just in case.


    depending on where you fly to, there's a few paygo/prepaid sim card plans for at&t mnvo like StraightTalk and a few other generally regional carriers.


    My cousin Jameela wears a TSA uniform. Those regulations are regularly violated. In fact, the screeners have authority to make exceptions.

    Assume that you'll have to unpack it.

    Hope that helps! If you have more specific questions, I will pass them along.


    Your point (1) seems to be inconsistently applied judging by my experiences travelling over the last couple of weeks (which involved 4 x US security checks). I saw all of:

    1 x iPads/10"ish netbooks going through fine (US internal flight)

    2 x Everything being asked to be unpacked (UK/USA international flights)

    1 x Everything being unpacked unless it was in one of the "inspection friendly" bags that fold out (US internal flight)

    So it looks like it might save you some time/pain if you just go with the iPad/netbook.

    On the bright side my largish spare USB battery thang got through security in the bag without question every time. Previously it's been nearly thrown away due to being a strange looking object with flashing lights :-)

    Unrelated to your questions, but it was also the very first time I have got through USA immigration without being "randomly" selected for several hours of annoying questions. This includes pre-9/11 as well as post-9/11 security. I almost asked "are you sure?" when they waved me through! I assume whatever weirdo-checkboxes I ticked in my youth have finally expired. Huzzah.


    PS If you are travelling with the laptop - I've almost never been asked to take the laptop out of a "sleeve" type case. To avoid breakage[1] issues as much as possible I have a nice neoprene case that deals with casual bumps - that I keep inside my large case for when they force me to take the laptop out of the bag.

    [1] Doesn't avoid damage when the fardling TSA agent drop the damn bag though - as I know from personal experience :-/


    Traveled domestically to/from Black Hat and DEFCON security conferences in last month in Las Vegas to SGO, to Buddhist Geeks conference in Boulder (Denver), and just did a round trip to London and SFO.

    I've never been requested on any of these to remove my iPad or DSLR (or portable hard drive) from my bag. I have always had to remove my Macbook Air from my bag.


    Airport security is maddeningly inconsistent. I travel a lot (mostly between SFO, JFK, LAX, and a few other places, ~30 times a year) and have found the optimal strategy is to take any electronics out of the bag. Also, I refuse the microwave (I know) and take the manual patdown - I'd rather someone touch my nuts than risk it. (And of course that is a personal choice; I understand the quandary it creates for others.)

    What a bleak, horrible future we live in.


    1) Since you're going to Chicago let me give you my knowledge of Chicago Airports: O'Hare: Ask the security person at the X-ray, they are very inconsistant and it seems to vary by person working. Midway: They have their stuff together, leave your iPad in your bag. You may still want to mention it to the Xray Opp so they aren't surprised.

    TSA likes cautious tourists. The more you can act like that the less grief they'll give you.

    2) In Chicago T-Mobile is still your best bet (ATT has crappy reception around Chicago). Go to one of the Carrier's stores, not a Best Buy, to get someone who can get you what you need.

    Wish I could go back to Chicago for WorldCon but I hope you have some fun at it!

    Thanks, Joe


    Part of the TSA strategy is that the rules change frequently and without notice, to frustrate attackers (and everyone else).


    Just as a small counter to the multiple tales of woe here, I will note that even in these times, it is certainly possible for one's freedoms to remain blissfully intact. I don't fly anymore (if I can possibly help it), certainly not from the US, and I am much the happier for it.


    I've checked into half a dozen US airports over the last year, and never had a request from TSA to remove my iPad from my bag. I always remove my laptop from my bag, but at the Austin and San Jose airports, I've seen a friend go through security just by unfolding his "checkpoint optimized" bag. It went through without question.

    Unlike #54, I've never been hassled for electronics of any sort. My full field kit contains a half-dozen cables, three or four power supplies and AC adapters, an external mouse, a FireWire external HD or two, a camera, and a good number of spare AA and AAA batteries. All this is in my laptop bag and it goes through without question every time.

    They will catch containers of liquids in your luggage nearly every time. Leaving your toothpaste in your roll-aboard will almost certainly result in them flagging and opening it.

    Aside from stray tubes of toothpaste, the few times in recent memory I have had a bag opened and its contents re-xrayed were far more random. I have had my clothing roll-aboard pulled opened three times. Once, for a small bag of q-tips in my shaving kit, once for a lint roller, and once for a small bag of wet wipes (which they put back without question, rather than declaring it a container of liquids).

    Anyway, if they see something in your bag that they're suspicious of, they're not especially putative about it. Your bag will get opened, the offending article identified, and then your bag and the thing they took out of it will be x-rayed separately. It might add five minutes to the experience. Searched bags and articles get re-xrayed at the head of the queue. And as far as I can tell, they don't take your name or make a note of the fact that they've specially searched your bags.

    I'm not defending the TSA--I loathe them with all the fibers in my being. Rather, I think your best bet is to travel with your stuff in the configuration that makes most sense to you. If the TSA doesn't like, it'll add a few minutes to your trip through the security gate, and the next time, you can make adjustments.


    • The TSA's rules state that you may leave tablets and similar small electronic devices in your carry-on. I do so regularly and haven't had any difficulties. However, you'll occasionally encounter an agent who makes up their own rules. There's no point arguing; it'll slow you down even further, and the TSA actually encourages inconsistency, apparently in the interest of confusing the bad guys along with everyone else. I'd recommend keeping it in your bag; the time wasted on the one time out of ten that you'll be asked to remove it is outweighed by the time saved on the other nine occasions.
    • There are two different types of full-body scanners in use by the TSA: X-ray backscatter and millimetre-wave. The vast majority of the deployed devices are of the MW type, and look like big transparent cylinders. I have no problem with those, as there is no ionizing radiation involved. The X-ray backscatter devices look like two large rectangular blocks, with an area between them for the victim to stand. Those I avoid, generally by asking for a hand search... invasive, but better than being sprayed with high-energy radiation.
      If you do decide to go through a full-body scanner, save yourself some time by removing EVERYTHING from your pockets and placing all of it in your carry-on or in a tray before you get to the front of the line.


    I went with these people:

    and ended up with a Go Red Pocket SIM card which I funded with a UK credit card and which I activated when I arrived in the US and it worked fine. I think Red Pocket are either AT&T or on the AT&T network, coverage was decent in Utah/Colorado/New York. I had a 2GB allowance that lasted 30 days.


    I have never been asked to take my iPad out of my backpack at SFO, JFK or PHL, but as noted repeatedly above you simply cannot count on consistent enforcement or even knowledge by TSA screeners. I wouldn't even attempt to argue the distinction between a "netbook" and a "laptop" with them, and would expect to have to remove it.

    One thing that might be worth looking into: there are a specific category of "checkpoint friendly" bags that are approved for going through screening without having to decant the laptop: for instance. (Totally understood if you don't want to buy a new bag just to optimize for the USA's insane airport regulations, but it's certainly an option.)

    Lastly, the sort of data plan you want actually does kinda exist in the USA, but it's only for the iPad itself: if you've jailbroken your iPad it should be fairly simple to acquire an AT&T SIM, activate it for the month you're here, and share the connection with your laptop. (Absent the jailbreaking, only the Verizon iPads support carrier-blessed connection sharing, sigh.)


    Xmind does mind-mapping, but also can change the layout of the map. One of the layouts is a top-down expand-to-the-right tree that, if you add auto-numbering, comes pretty close to being an outline mode. It is especially easy to just start typing and use keyboard controls to fill in an outline quickly. You can switch back and forth between different map layouts on the fly, and I think even have different parts of the map in different styles.

    I was actually just doing a lot of research on how to go from mind-maps to Scrivener via OPML. I hit a dead end, because everything I found works beautifully on a Mac, and my working laptop is Windows. Scrivener for Windows doesn't even import OPML yet.


    Given the habit of US Customs to seize laptops and electronics for disk imaging and forensic searches, physical searches by the TSA should be very low down on your list of concerns when carrying any computer into the United States.


    I've never had any problems leaving a tablet in the bag, but I'd be hesitant about the netbook.


    I took left my iPad in once, because there was actually a handwritten sign saying to do so in the security line, probably at SFO (san francisco) where perhaps 25% of travellers have one. That went fine. I think I asked one of the tsa people the next couple times and they both said to take it out, so I just take it out now. I don't really worry about it being stolen there, but I suppose I might worry about an accidental switch if had a very common cover. Typically it's in the same bin as my shoes anyway.

    Re: prepaid data

    I wonder if you might do better with some kind of UK or canada based prepaid plan that has data in the US using the AT&T network? is another option. Can get a prepaid SIMM with data on the att network... But it's really intended for phones and they are vague on what the data limits are. Advertised as unlimited, but a bunch of specific things you are not supposed to do (stream audio, stream video, download apps, tethering... Maybe more). Anecdotally they will kick you off at around 2gigs. I'm trying them out for my phone now, so far it's ok. Worth a shot for $45 a month instead of $100 or more (tmobile has no signal where I work).


    I never had to remove the ipad and I took dozens of flights with it. I just asked a consultant friend who take about 3 round-trip flights/week, same answer. Never asked to remove the ipad. Netbooks are different according to him, some places will notice it and ask you to remove it, others don't care.


    Just got back from the us... They had signs in the TSA lines illustrating different type of carry-on designs that required or didn't require that laptops be removed... Looked like if it was a single layer or opened so that the laptop was in a single layer, you didnt need to remove it.

    Additionally, one airport had a display with two small laptop carry-ons, one with basically a laptop and a few papers, labelled "neat, likely no check required" the other one with a book, a few cables and thumb drives labelled "messy, additional check likely"... I.e. like my carry-on looks when i consider it packed in a spartan manner.

    For what it's worth.


    A very few years ago I read that they may make you turn on a laptop to be sure it worked and was not full of C-4. But I have not flown for many years. Real world security is inconsistent. Knowing they can do something that takes time, but usually will not makes things less for a sure deal. A uncle helped write the regs, says what's happening is not the comity wrote.


    Unfortunately, the rules are not consistent across all US airports. In Dulles (Washington DC) I was told to remove my iPad. In Logan (Boston) and SFO (San Francisco) they don't seem to care. Your mileage may vary.


    Folks, y'ain't being helpful.

    To repeat: I asked my cousin, who works for the TSA. In a blue shirt. There. Are. No. Rules.

    But if that isn't convincing, hear this: Beowulf at 68 is certainly correct when he says the checkers at Logan don't care. I am also certainly correct when I say that they do.

    I repeat: The rules are that there are no rules.

    In other words, to be safe, assume you'll have to take it out. Or just go through and see what happens.

    Charlie, have you bought tickets yet? If not, I strongly recommend Jetblue, when possible, assuming you don't have elite status. Buy an EvenMore seat. It will move you much faster.


    Tickets for my part of the trip were bought 8 weeks out (near the bottom of the bathtub-pricing curve). Tickets for the tour ... I have no discretion: they're bought for me by the publisher, and they're mostly booked on United or American (shudder, gag). At least the couple on Delta should be less painful as I have Sky Team status.

    (There's no point taking out United or American frequent flyer cards because I avoid those airlines -- and their affiliates -- like the plague, wherever possible. Because they're shit.)

  • Maybe Tree which is sort of a combined outliner/mind map tool with decent export options?
  • 73:

    Slip case bags are preferred in case you do have to take something out. And most travel related luggage that says "laptop ready" or similar has one included. The goals is to allow TSA to XRay it without seeing anything else at the same time.

    I'll add to something I mentioned a few months back about traveling. Make your slipcase bag distinctive. Slap a few CS book decals on it. Or flags of the EU. Whatever. Both sides. That way you can visually track it as it goes through the process and any thief will likely skip it for a plain one as those are easier to explain away if someone notices them taking it.

    And I suspect that some/many of these thefts are just mistakes that people are too embarrassed to fess up about. At one major airline the baggage tracking folks tell about periodically getting bags turned over to them that were found UNOPENED after someone died. As best anyone can figure the people who took the wrong bag, usually elderly in these cases, were too embarrassed to tell anyone they made a mistake and just put them in the back of a closet.

    And when TSA says take everything out of your pockets they mean everything. I got a hand inspection after missing a nickle in a pocket about a year ago.

    And for the latest rules:

    Of course as has been noted if you have a difference of opinion about the rules, forget it. You'll always loose. Unless your goal is to make a protest. Which is another conversation entirely.


    1) Be prepared to do the dance. The TSA is power hungry and immoral and wants to make you submit to their questionable will.

    2) T-Mobile is most likely still your only choice in Chicago. You can check and see if US Cellular offers such a service, but I am willing to bet that Verizon does not, Sprint sucks, and AT&T is more like the TSA than not.

    I have no answer for 3 because I don't have a Mac.


    just back from vacation in USA (reading rule 34 on iPad) spent 4+ hours trying to get a "clear" hot spot registered ... in the end got a t-mobile 4g hot spot + $50 data only sim .. used it in LA , SF and NY ..... worked great in all 3cities and on interstate ... just no joy on highway 1 coast road.


    oh yes, forgot to say , paid for all in cash ... t-mobile took about 10 mins


    Index Card for the iPad will sync with Scrivener. It's not a mind mapper -- it uses movable index cards that snap to a grid -- but it does have an outline view.


    Ah... Magical Pad looks like it has the features you want, including OPML in/out. Not actually tried it though.


    for ipads, i usually carry mine in a man-purse, leave it in, stick it through the xray without asking permission, 99% of the time even if the screener notices it, laziness wins and they won't bother to back it out of the scanner and make you take it out

    laptops in laptop bags they usually notice before you put them through


    Within the US, my flights are generally with an iPad inside a ZaggFolio keyboard. The keyboard/folio combo fools them.

    I always ask "Do I need to take my iPad out?"

    The TSA agent always answers "No."

    Yet fully 3/4 of the time I a TSA agent collects me after the scan, explains to me I did something wrong (even odds whether the tone is patronizing or accusatory), takes the "laptop out of the bag," (accusatory path option: statement that "iPads don't have keyboards,") runs "the laptop" through the scanner on its own, and wastes additional time.

    At least my local airport has figured it out.


    I use Mindmanager. It's expensive - but you can transfer between it and iThoughts HD without any problem. It's been around more than a decade, so while you pay more for the software, it has been around long enough that I'd expect it to be here in 20 years time.


    For Denver and San Jose, I was told to leave my iPad in my carry on. (I don't remember if I asked an agent or looked at posted signs, but that came from the TSA- this was from a few months ago)

    Also, the laptop bag (ie, my "personal item") that I travel with is one of those that is a single layer and doesn't need to have the computer removed according to TSA. I do keep the other electronics out of it and in the main carry on, and have had no problems leaving my heavy-duty work computer still in the bag.

    As an aside, I don't know if this happens because I'm female, but not having the little see-through quart bag of toiletries means I normally get asked about it at some point in the line by an agent. So, you might consider just bringing along something that makes it clear that you understand the rule and to avoid that conversation.


    I haven't been asked to take my iPad out.

    I regularly travel with iPad, Android phone, and laptop, and the TSA only insists on me taking out the laptop.

    They have double-screened my bag a couple of time because of all the electronics, in particular the AC adapter has made them nervous on occasion.


    Airports vary hugely. If it's a tech centre like San Jose, sf, Austin they will understand people with lots of things metal devices (Tom Coates points out that this is a weird retro name for our computational surfaces. By analogy with the return of "wireless" to contemporary use, I suggest we call our flat screens-with-affordances "looking glasses") Paygo sims are a primitive tech in the us. Blaine Cook has a pile of them, but they have high fixed costs. Find friends with androids or ipad 3's to share wifi with you. Mind-mapping and opml are structurally opposed. A true mind map is a 2d or higher structure where spatial position conveys meaning. Outlines as represented by opml just convey hierarchical containment and transient visibility. Soi-disant mind map tools that use the outlining worldview just impose an arbitrary spatiality on the containment hierarchy.


    Ditto to the people who have said there are no rules. There are rules, apparently, but it doesn't matter. The people who are doing the work are badly trained and badly paid, and you can't depend on them being able to read and interpret the signs right next to them. And you can't depend on the same airports doing the same thing twice. Sorry.

    My anecdotal experience is that Seattle, San Diego, San Francisco and Oakland all mostly understand that tablet-like devices (in my case, Kindle Fire, Galaxy Tab 10.1, Galaxy Nexus 7) stay in the bag. No idea about netbooks. But I don't feel like there's really any extra risk of loss/theft/damage - the laptop is going in a plastic bin right next to the carryon luggage and running through the same system at the same time. Laptops don't get diverted off somewhere else. Usually I have two bins, one with shoes/jacket, one with the laptop, and then the laptop bag, then my carryon bag.

    Prepaid is getting better here rapidly for locals, but may not help people without a US credit card. sells a sim that works on ATT for $45/month unlimited data (and voice) no contract, but I don't know if it will work in your device. (My wife uses it for her Galaxy Nexus, works great in Seattle).


    Since postcode and house-number is sufficient, in the UK, to trace an address for anyone with access to the post-office lists, some sort of simplified address sticker on your electronics sounds a good idea.

    Some people would be wary of a full address giving away that their house is empty.

    For this trip, Charles Stross, c/o publisher's office, could be good.

    That's not quite the same as making luggage distinctive when it's on a conveyor belt. I wonder if there would be a market for personalised computer skins. If they could print from a supplied imagefile, I'd be talking to one of the fan-artists I know.

    OK, places such as Cafepress.

    I suspect the problem would be making the printing durable.

    Given the habit of US Customs to seize laptops and electronics for disk imaging and forensic searches, physical searches by the TSA should be very low down on your list of concerns when carrying any computer into the United States.

    Total number of people I know who have had their machines physically seized or scanned by TSA/DHS. Zero.

    Total number of people I know who have machines dropped/damaged by TSA/DHS folk. Four (including myself).

    Personally I worry about both. But I, and the people I know, have had many more problems due to physical searches than the more forensic sort (which are pretty trivial to deal with - don't carry anything sensitive our your machine).


    They make you fly American? Oh dear.... that's... sub-optimal.... my sympathies.


    Local TSA personnel are theoretically supposed to follow the national guidelines. In practice, they do whatever.

    This. I work for a company that makes sharp things (you've heard of us). One of our products is specifically designed for taking through airport security, and comes with a big "TSA Compliant" logo. It complies with TSA rules - it was designed to - and has been checked in various places around the world for travel under other rules. And at the bottom of the catalog page in tiny print it notes "ultimately discretion is up to each individual TSA agent."

    So, yeah, just because something is built from day one to pass TSA rules doesn't mean that this particular underpaid goon will actually let you take it on the plane.


    There is a (Stunningly brilliant, & physically attractive & intelligent) small-pipes player named Kathryn Tickell. Apprently the only airports she can use without causing total mayhem are Newcastle & Edinburgh. Because her sets of pipes (she usually carries two or three) look like mated electronic octopi on scans. She's on record as having to have to play them, to prove that they ARE musical instruments.

    Try HERE to see what I mean - start at 1m 25s. And look at the pipes, as well as listening!


    For an outlier and mind mapping software, have a look at Tinderbox ( It will export OMPL and the latest version plays well with Scrivener (disclaimer: I've not tried the Scrivener import/export).


    OPML is handled by MindGenius. I'll stop talking there, because I wrote the first version of this software, contributed to it over the years, and still work for the company - so not entirely impartial!


    and wastes additional time.

    You know, if this is happening three times out of four, you might want to stop and consider why you're wasting everyone's time (well, everyone except the person who's being paid by the hour anyway).

    My bet is that if you took the keyboard out, it would stop this happening.

    Are you even asking about the keyboard?


    "Do they actually observe this guideline, or can I expect to have to do the unpack-everything dance even with a netbook or tablet?"

    Usually not.

    The word from the horse's mouth is:

    Electronic items smaller than the standard sized laptop should not need to be removed from your bag or their cases. It’s that simple. It’s important to remember, however, that our officers are trained to look for anomalies to help keep air travel safe, and if something needs a closer look, it will receive secondary screening. The key to avoiding bag searches is keeping the clutter down.--
    Generally I've found this to be true. I travel mostly in Portland, Seattle, and the SF Bay Area, however, and the TSA there is accustomed to tech-heavy travelers.

    Yes, T-Mobile (Deutsche Telekom) is the best choice for SIM cards in the USA. ATT is theoretically possible, but their network is very thin and overloaded. Telestial ( may offer some choices.

    BTW, Alaska Airlines is one of the better US carriers. They are not perfect, but they are usually reasonable. Unfortunately, they are also relatively limited in their coverage.


    BTW, Alaska Airlines is one of the better US carriers. They are not perfect, but they are usually reasonable. Unfortunately, they are also relatively limited in their coverage.

    As I'm travelling exclusively in the north-east, this advice is relevant how?

    (Alaska have also been on my personal do-not-fly list for being looney evangelicals. Although this is currently subject to review.)


    re: #3 mindmapping andOutline/OPML Tool

    years ago, I've tried Zengobis Curio, it's a mix of mindmapping, outliner, scrapbook and even taskmanagement tool.

    It proved to be very capable, but provided far more features than I needed (I've ended up with Mindmanager and Omni Outliner Pro) - but it definitely is a very powerful tool and worth checking out.


    While I can appreciate the sentiment, just how many states are left as places you will travel on the basis of "low numbers of looney evangelicals?" I'm assuming you're limited to big cities in the Northern contiguous 48 and perhaps Hawaii?


    Best avoid Canterbury (UK) - last week I was stopped four times by different evangelical groups, and we're always being plagued at my house by the Witnesses, who have a compound next door. Because you know we haven't ever heard of Jesus here, with our thousand year old massive cathedral, 22 parish churches etc... Being rude to them isn't as much fun as it used to be so these days I politely explain that I don't think we have anything to discuss.

    @Greg, #90: She's extraordinary, isn't she. And a lot of fun. She's playing Towersey this year on the Monday (end of this month), with her dad who is also excellent, as you probably know. I don't think the Spooky Men are singing this year, which will upset the children in my family.

    Another thing customs officers look at strangely is a kazoo, they often think it's some kind of crack pipe. Some don't believe it's an instrument even after they've heard one played.

    But the ultimate "stopped by customs" story is Simon Singh's account of how he was briefly detained at an airport for carrying an Enigma machine.


    Carrying a military grade encryption device? I should cocoa!

    (Mind you, if I were one of the airport officials, I'd have just wanted to see one outside a museum. Sadly, he didn't have it with him the time I was seated next to him.)

    As for missionaries, I got a pair of what I think were Mormons last week, for the very first time. I didn't detain them long enough to point out that our house is built in the former grounds of a convent.


    My apologies if others have already mentioned... I can only speak to the iPad/Laptop issue.

    I've only had one time where I've had to pull the iPad out for seperate scanning, and that was right after they came out (at Logan, actually). Not had a problem leaving them in the bag since.

    Laptops - it might depend on the type of bag you are using... some of the ones that can zip open and lay flat circumvent the "pull the laptop out" issue. I changed to a backpack sometime last year for that very reason (and I'm using a 13" Mac Air) with no issues.


    Chris, you describe the experience I have had. While I believe iPads are typically let through, on at least three occasions, I have had to stop while they go through my bag manually because I had too many electronics. It has been annoying and nerve-wracking in at least one case as I had a tight flight connection.


    in particular the AC adapter has made them nervous on occasion.

    Once on a long-ago morning I went to an explosives orientation course where a Cuban expat demonstrated the amazing things that could be done with a chunk of C4 the size of an AC adapter, even of the smaller variety. I didn't ask where he'd learned his skills.


    In my personal experience, Denver, San Jose CA, Newark, Cedar Rapids Iowa, Dallas, and Atlanta all were fine with my Android Tablet in my carry on. TSA in Tulsa Oklahoma asked me to take mine out of my bag but I didn't have to pull it out of the sleeve. For myself I just assume it's going to be fine and lately it has been, the Tulsa flight was a year or so ago, I've flown through all the other airports listed within the last several months.


    The 5 panels I'm assigned to, and meetings with agents, book publishers, and a book-spinoff computer game company permitting, I look forward to seeing some of yours. Awaiting your comparison between Chicago-style hot dogs with 127 toppings crammed on by back-pack algorithm, and bangers.

    I suspect some parallel between how, as soon as one has one's worldcon logistics nailed down, local friends start offering to take you out to dinner the same week; and attractive people hitting on you as soon as you get married (to which my standard statement was "please go away and come back 30 to 40 years ago.")

  • On a recent trip I packed an iPad as well as a laptop. On both flights I removed the laptop for screening, but left the iPad in the bag. The first time they didn't mention anything about the iPad. The second time I was pulled out of line and asked about it. Probably best to play it safe unless you want to play 20 questions because they think you're trying to sneak it past them.
  • 106:

    As a frequent flyer carrying an 11" MBA and iPad for the past few years - it's been somewhat hit or miss, especially if you have both in the bag, despite the official regs. After a few times I just took the laptop out. I always opt out of the "advanced imaging technology" (since they were beta testing in 2008?) - theft has never been a problem (over hundreds of flights). You spend a bit more time waiting on one side, but then they collect your stuff when you get your patdown.

    In terms of data, if you go w/ T-Mobile, it's $3/day for "unlimited" data or there's a $30/mo w/ "unlimited" data. Note, technically this doesn't support data tethering (which is extra) but I've rarely encountered any problems. If you have the right penta-band device (a Galaxy Nexus for example) you can run it on T-Mobile's 1700MHz HSPA+ as well as AT&T's 1900/2100 (850 and 900 are the other bands) - IMO, w/ Google Maps, penta-band, and OOTB tethering, the Galaxy Nexus is currently the best international travel phone on the market (the iPhone 4S is also penta-band, but not AWS IV, also tethering is carrier profile locked, and the maps suck).

    I haven't had a problem picking up SIM cards locally without a CC (just pop into a cell phone store and pick up a SIM for free to $5) and prepaid cards are available at most convenience stores, supermarkets, etc. I haven't used the AT&T DataConnect Pass plans - that looks like a good bet. If you can't use a local CC and want to try that, I'm sure you can have a friend order it? (In the ancient past of the mid-2000's when traveling to the UK, I had a local friend order a SIM so I could have it when I landed and w/o the fuss.)

    I used to use Omni Outliner a lot (ultimately switched to Evernote, giving up structure for something accessible anywhere). As far as mind mapping, I have friends that swears by Freemind (Open Source) and Tinderbox (Commercial, expensive, sort of a lifestyle choice).


    @Bellingham 93

    Yes, I mention the keyboard to the TSA reps, and mention it here because last I recall, our host uses the same as well. The ZAGGFolio is a folio+keyboard combo, so removing the keyboard is far more effort than pulling out the folio itself, which I have started doing.


    Regular flying, different airports.

    Basically, the rules are clear as mud and about as evenly applied.

    For sanity sake, I remove the iPad, Kindle and Laptop and put them in bins.

    I always remove shoes - so goodbye laces. And I always remove my belt.

    Never actually had a damage problem except where the TSA decided to do a chemicals test and dropped the laptop. They'd have done that anyway.

    Basically, if you don't want to have a secondary bag check, I'd do this.

    OTOH - if you're flying a lot of single legs booked by somebody else... watch out for getting the SSSS of colossal aggravation on your boarding pass because them all of this is moot.


    OTOH - if you're flying a lot of single legs booked by somebody else... watch out for getting the SSSS of colossal aggravation on your boarding pass

    How did you guess? (Yes, I have lots of single legs booked by someone else!)


    If you think the USSA is bad ... Look at the latest BATSHIT INSANE "idea" from our own, delightful UK Home Office proposal here ... There can only be two possible (not mutually exclusive) "reasons" for something this daft ..... 1] The less likely - someone actually went mad, and really did NOT envisage the actual numbers of people using London (& elsewhere) main stations & interchanges, & the total chaos it will cause .... 2] A fairly senior "civil servant" has been BRIBED by either/both the car manufacturing &/or the airline lobbyists to put this lunacy forward.

    You will note that the linked web-site has a feedback form, and an e-mail address. You are seriously recommended to write to them!


    If I may: TSA officials have been given an impossible and incredibly silly job. My wife used to hate them ... until she acquired a cousin who works for the TSA at JFK. Please have some sympathy for them - it isn't fault that they have been given an ridiculous task with no guidance. Write your Congressman.

    The guys at Logan are good conversation, at least, although I've seen 'em on bad days.


    So as someone who flys a lot : 1) This seems to vary by airport. To east passage through security, I take each device out (2 laptops, iphone, ipad) and place them in bins - one laptop per bin, and the phone & ipad in the bin with my shoes. 2) No clue, work pays for my MiFi 3) If you find something share - I currently use OmniFocus for doing lists and todos on all my devices. Sadly it doesn't mind-map. While I'm not a big mind-map person digitally, it would eb a nifty feature to have.

    And hey, I hope to see you at WorldCon, if nowhere else, from across the room at the Hugo Ceremony. :)


    You have to understand the reasons for making you remove you belt and shoes. it's not for the other travelers safety,but your own. Some travelers become so despondent after several hours in a line with only a choice between climbing into a microwave oven,and a prostate exam at the end,they attempt to hang themselves with their belts or shoelaces.


    Similar level of snark to yourself, but mentioning other industries!


    As with other commenters, I have had reasonable success with T-Mobile prepaid SIMs. I got one a couple of years ago in San Francisco and used it successfully in a MiFi and then another one in New York last December which I used in a Windows Phone which has a Wi-Fi hotspot capability and that worked a treat as well as giving me a second phone with a US number.

    I think it's $2 a day for unlimited 2G internet and, just looking at their site yesterday, possible $3 a day for a faster connection. 2G is fine if you're temporarily out of range of hotel/airport/cafe Wi-Fi.

    The neat trick with the T-Mobile SIM is to keep it topped up - $10 a quarter is enough to keep it alive and you can do this online with a credit card. That way you don't have to go back to the shop and buy another one on the next trip. $40 a year for a US phone number and (effectively) unlimited mobile internet. Not a bad deal.

    With iPads, I just take them out onto the conveyor. To a scanning machine, it looks like a laptop so why give yourself the aggravation of having extra checks or delays afterwards.


    I won't be at the Hugo ceremony this year. Am a miserable burn-out case, me: no can haz nominations. (Besides, they scheduled my literary beer to clash with the end of the ceremony :)


    Regarding the Hugos - I for one voted for the immensely talented Ursula, so if she's not taking you to the Winners' party, it's not going to be my fault.

    (In truth I hope they're running things the way it happened in Melbourne: a combined party for all entrants, rather than separate functions for the winners and the runners up.)


    Well, I didn't know where you were flying. And Alaska stopped handing out the little cards with psalms at the beginning of this year. As corporate expressions of religion goes, they were pretty weak tea.


    I suspect he, Charlie, thinks Alaska is populated with Sarah clones.


    He, Charlie, knows Catie Murphy, who is Alaskan-born.

    On the other hand, she and her entire family emigrated to Ireland because they couldn't take SP's malign influence any longer. So they're possibly not representative of those who remained behind.


    I have flown over 80k miles domestically this year, almost none of it transcontinental. Something like 40 round trips from most major cities in the US. I have a messenger bag that meets TSA guidelines, so my laptop just gets folded out. I was only asked about that once this year, I explained it, and it didn't need to come out. I asked several TSA agents last year, and they ALL said that the iPad doesn't need to come out. I have never taken it out since. Only once did they send if for secondary screening (non random) and that was because I had my power brick and like six charging cords all together in the carry on. The TSA agent said the wires looked weird.

    I don't know about net books, but I would take it out, or get a TSA approved bag for it.


    you mention you have elite status on delta. call (or have your travel agent/publisher call) the other airlines you have to deal with and ask them if they will do status matching--some will match just for asking, and some will if you have some other affiliation (e.g. your publisher may be a good affiliate, esp. if they fly authors around a lot).


    I don't have elite status on Delta; I have elite status on Air France/KLM, a Delta partner in Sky Team. That's somewhat less likely to get a status match from a domestic US carrier. (Now, if I was thinking of transferring to Lufthansa or BA ...)


    Just got bit by this last night after midnight. Driving a rental car though the middle of nowhere Virginia (well 20 miles west of Petersburg on I-85) I discovered my iPhone was at 20% of charge. With another 3 hours to drive. Yikes. It was not getting any juice from the car.

    Use most of remaining battery life to find a Walmart in Petersburg and buy (yet another for my collection) auto USB power plug and a auto fuse kit. Discovered neither was the issue after some swapping out if things in the Walmart lot at 130AM or so. (Did you know that the fuse labeled ROOM is for the radio on a Mazda 6?) Great. iPhone dead?

    Turned it off so I might be able to make one more call if needed and drove on up. When I got here my phone charged fine on AC power which means the rental car power plugs are bad. Never seen this in ANY car when fuses were good.

    My point is to check out the power sockets on any rental car before you get to where you can't swap it out.


    i found this overly long and probably outdated article about status matching: tl;dr: you can do it in many combos (note that aa and ua are actually both major international airlines, and also domestic ones in the us). but typically only once in your life per airline. but maybe it's still worth it for you.


    The apps you want are OmniOutliner and MindNode (MindNode Pro on the Mac). The iOS apps both have 'send to app' OPML options, and the Mac apps read each others OPML exports.

    Mindnode used to have a free version, but not sure if that is still out for OS X since it went to App store. It's certainly one of the best mind map tools I've tried.

    I've tried shunting Mindmaps out of Mindnode to Outliner and back, and they move fine structurally. The only issue I saw was on iOS where the reimported outline into Mindnode gained an extra Mindmaps top level branch that everything hung off that was the same name as the file in OmniOutliner.


    Considering it's described as a "Research Brief" I think your over-reacting. If it leads to useful "walk-through" sensors that's something that can be used in airports.

    But it just doesn't make sense for rail and Underground. The passenger numbers from one tube station are enough to overwhelm an airport. The number of real terrorists is so low that the response system is going to be dealing with false positives: a one in a million false positive rate would shut down Waterloo tube station twice a month, and that's just one station. There's enough high-traffic stations that there's be a shutdown every day.


    An update on my car power adapter issues.

    Problem was not electrical. Turns out the 2012 Mazda 6 cigaret/power adapters are made deeper than apparently those on most all other cars on the planet. My flush mount Kensington plug is not long enough to reach the +12 power point inside of the sockets in the 2012 Mazda 6 I had rented.

    I don't blame Kensington as they and others have sold millions of these and this is the first I've heard of an issue. I've rented about 20 makes and models of cars over the last few years and this is the first time I've run into this. But I have to wonder what the thought process was with some engineer at Mazda who said "Let's make these different from everyone else. What's the harm?"



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